Wednesday, November 18, 2015

DU Removes All Trace of Don Thomas...

Ignoring the black eye DU has given itself over the heinous firing of Don Thomas for bruising the fragile ego of billionaire supporter James Kennedy--poor precious pup. Now they go and completely remove all trace of Don Thomas, as if he never existed, despite that he was a valued, regular and popular contributor to DU Magazine since the late 1990s. Yep, try and find even one of his many articles in their archives and...Well, there are none...Really. As one scribe put it, un-personed in the best Orwellian fashion.

Since firing Don, instead of the story being confined to the relatively few Bozeangelites who pick up the free rag, Outside Bozeman, the story has gone viral...all over the internet and picked up by several national news agencies including AP and CNN...

Sort a leaves ya speechless, their stupidity, eh?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

RE: DU's Firing of Don Thomas

Sad, True but No Surprise, here is DU's response to those who have dared expressed outrage...

E. Donnall Thomas was a freelance contributor to Ducks Unlimited magazine. He was not a DU employee. He wrote the “Closing Time” column, which appeared on the back page of every issue. Mr. Thomas had been writing this column for DU since 2001.

In the Fall 2015 issue of Outside Bozeman, Mr. Thomas wrote an article entitled: “A Rift Runs Through It; Fighting For Access to the Ruby River.” The article dealt with ongoing legal challenges related to public access on a portion of Montana’s Ruby River that runs through a longstanding DU volunteer leader’s property in Montana. DU recognizes there are many views on this issue, but our mission is waterfowl and wetlands conservation. As a result, DU has no position on the stream access issue in Montana. 

In DU’s opinion, the article published by Mr. Thomas in Outside Bozeman publicly and very personally attacked a DU volunteer leader. We felt that the article demonstrated a lack of fairness in vilifying a member of the DU family without allowing that person the opportunity to provide his perspective.

As a result, DU decided to discontinue its relationship with Mr. Thomas. We would be similarly concerned if Mr. Thomas had written comparable statements about any DU volunteer leader. DU honors freedom of speech, but also honors our volunteers. 

Mr. Thomas has the right to express his opinions in any way he sees fit. DU has the right to choose who contributes to its publications

 Matt Coffey, Senior Communications Specialist, Ducks Unlimited , (901) 758-3764 , (843) 263-7445, mcoffey@ducks.org 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The following is an article, written by conservation hunter/angler and author, Don Thomas. Don was fired for basically writing about a public access issue here in Montana, that offended the billionaire involved. The billionaire pulled strings at a conservation organization, whose magazine Don wrote for and got him fired. Not only is this an injustice, but this is a threat to conservation and is not isolated to just this organization or this writer, there have been others here in Montana that have been affected by political string pulling. This story, and its implications for conservation, needed to be shared.

Ducks, Politics, and Money by Don Thomas

As many of you know, I have been a regular contributor to Ducks Unlimited magazine for nearly twenty years, serving as their Field Editor and writing the back page column in every issue. Not any more.

In October, 2015 I wrote a piece for Outside Bozeman magazine, A Rift Runs Through It, about the long Montana legal battle to secure and maintain public access to the Ruby River in accordance with the state's stream access law. (I will make a copy of that text available to anyone on request.) To summarize a complex issue for those unfamiliar with the case, wealthy Atlanta businessman James Cox Kennedy engaged in extensive litigation to prevent such access, only to be denied repeatedly in court due to the efforts of the Montana Public Land and Water Access Association. While the article was not complimentary to Kennedy, no one has challenged the accuracy of the reporting.
James Cox Kennedy is a major financial contributor to Ducks Unlimited. On November 10, a Ducks Unlimited functionary informed me that my position with the magazine was terminated because of Cox's displeasure with the article.

Several points deserve emphasis. The Ruby River article had nothing whatsoever to do with ducks or Ducks Unlimited (DU hereafter). The article did strongly support the rights of hunters and other outdoor recreationists to enjoy land and water to which they are entitled to access, and DU is a hunters' organization. By terminating me for no reason related to my work for the magazine and the organization, DU has essentially taken the position that wealthy donors matter more than the outdoor recreationists they purport to represent.

As an outdoorsman and conservationist who supports the North American Model and the Public Trust Doctrine, I find DU's action reprehensible. As a journalist, I find it chilling. Wildlife advocates today face ever increasing pressures to abandon these principles in favor of the commercialization of our public resources, largely from wealthy individuals like James Cox Kennedy. If every journalist reporting on these issues faces this kind of vindictive retribution, the future of wildlife and wildlife habitat-not to mention the hunters and anglers of ordinary means who form the backbone of groups like DU-is bleak indeed.

This issue is not about me or my professional relationship with Ducks Unlimited magazine. It is about integrity and the future of wildlife in America. If you share my concerns-especially if you are a DU member-I encourage you to contact the organization (www.ducks.org attn: Dale Hall), express your opinion, and take whatever further action you might consider appropriate.

Don Thomas
Lewistown, MT