A look back at the outdoors in 2015

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2016. I don’t know what the coming year has in store for us, but plenty of interesting stuff happened in the outdoors in 2015.

As newsworthy years go, 2015 was pretty laid back, at least in the outdoors world. We didn’t get the roller-coaster delisting, then relisting, then delisting and finally relisting of wolves or grizzly bears like we’ve had in past years. This year, wolves and grizzly bears just stayed on the Endangered Species List.

There was a push to list the sage grouse, but the bomber of the high plains will stay off the protected list, at least for now. Several government agencies, as well as a few conservation groups, have banded together to work to save these magnificent birds, without resorting to federal protection to do it. I have high hopes for what they can accomplish in the next 12 months.

This past year saw several more pushes to enact stricter gun control laws, after a number of high-profile shootings. Oddly enough, these shootings all happened in places where guns are not permitted already.

But the news wasn’t all bad. Another piece of proposed legislation aims to do away with the $200 tax stamp you currently have to get if you want to buy a suppressor for your firearms. The bill is championed by the American Suppressor Association and sponsored by Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona, and it’s called the Hearing Protection Act. If it’s passed, you’ll only need to pass a NICS background check to buy a suppressor. That should make the shooting ranges a little less noisy.

My favorite story of 2015, though, was when our state’s chief game warden did the right thing, rather than doing what would have been much easier. He and his son accidentally killed one too many elk, and instead of just walking away, as they easily could have done, Brian Nesvik turned himself in immediately. I have a lot of respect for that.

Happy New Year to you. I hope 2016 is your best year yet.