Statistics released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) show 2012 as the warmest year on record for the continental U.S. Last year did not shirk on extreme weather either, as drought, forest fire, and hurricane Sandy battered the nation. Even as the year was coming to a close, a final snowstorm in the east rolled in as the year turned to 2013.

According to the NOAA, 2012 boasted a record-hot spring, the second-warmest summer, and a fourth-warmest winter. This severe change in temperature ranked a full degree over the previous warmest year in 1998. Hunters and anglers are already feeling the effects of the changing climate as water levels decline and bird migration alters. Hunting and angling seasons are also changing, and perhaps not for the better. Conservation groups such as the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and others are working hard to promote awareness in congress and preparing policies that will benefit sportsmen.

It doesn’t take regulation changes to feel the heat, 2012 took a bite out of the American wallet as well. Natural disasters racked up billions in damages and put the northeastern fishing industry in peril. The Boat Owners Association of the United States estimates the number of boats damaged by hurricane Sandy at 65,000. A massive drought in the Midwest grew to affect more than half the country, shooting up the prices for essentials like corn and grain to record highs worldwide. Summer wildfires took their toll as well, burning through millions of acres of forestland and drastically impacting conservation efforts.

However, not all is bad. Last year also saw an increase in outdoor activities, bringing large numbers of people outside to preserve America’s sporting heritage. Winter sports are seeing brisk business for the first time in years, as the late snowstorm packed the lines for ski lodges and retail stores. Recovery efforts for areas affected by Sandy show incredible progress and spirits remain strong into the early days of 2013.

Image courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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