William (Brad) Bradley
Photo by Steve Puppe
Name: William (Brad) Bradley
Location: Overland Park, Kansas
Contribution: Sierra Club Life Member, self-described "conservation" Republican, 2013 Bates County (Mo.) Soil Conservation District Wildlife Habitat Award recipient
Seven years ago you bought a farm as a hunting and fishing retreat and found toxic waste from coal mining operations on it. What happened? Peabody Energy mined coal on my land and surrounding properties until the late 1940s. The coal was found near ferrous sulfate, a compound that made it less desirable, because when burned, it would create sulfur dioxide, a pollutant. So they washed the coal before loading it on trains, creating a lot of toxic waste.
How did you react to the news? I was extremely angry. The land had a wild appearance after 40 years with no coal activity and 20 years with virtually no other activity. My anger was as much at myself for not doing a better job investigating.
You've planted native grasses, removed ponds, and brought in nearly 1,000 truckloads of limestone. What do you want to accomplish? To make the water as good as it can be when it leaves my property. To bring back life to the streams.
What do you mean by "conservation Republican"? I just returned from a sailing trip. We had to conserve our water and waste. It seems to me that in many ways the earth is like a sailboat. What's left for us is to decide how to respond, and for me that means taking an interest in the environment as well as capitalism.
Why do Republicans often oppose environmental regulations? They're concerned about the encroaching hand of government versus personal freedom. I'm sympathetic, but it's a Pyrrhic victory if you win personal freedom and the consequence is that everybody pollutes the earth that much quicker.
Do your GOP friends tease you for supporting the Sierra Club? I honestly don't know the political affiliation of most of my friends. At any rate, none of them are ideologues if they are my friends. Successful hunters are, or should be, conservationists. They have to study the ecology of the animals they hunt in order to do well. Otherwise they are just shooters. The older I get, the less it is about the hunting and the more it is about the animals and the habitat.