In April the House passed H.R. 4089 The Sportsmen's Heritage Act. This law would open many areas managed by the National Park Service to hunting and recreational shooting. Only areas designated as National Parks would be exempt. This would open places like The Blue Ridge Parkway, National and Scenic Rivers, National Seashores, Recreation Areas, National Monuments, and Historic Sites to hunting.
An amendment was introduced that would have exempted National Park areas from this bill, but it was defeated in the House. I have chosen to contact my congressman who voted for the bill and against the amendment with the following email that was sent to me by the National Parks and Conservation Association. I took the time to add more details about my personal concerns about this change of law that has been in affect since our National Park System was established.
After spending more than 32 years of my life protecting our National Parks I want to express my deep disappointment that you failed to support an amendment on April 17 that would have exempted national park system units from the Sportsmen's Heritage Act. By voting against Congressman Rush Holt's common sense amendment, you failed to appreciate why national park system units were set aside in the first place--for public enjoyment; where we go to relax, re-charge, and be inspired by the wonders of our natural and cultural heritage. Equally important, they were also created to protect and preserve wildlife and other superlative natural and cultural resources.
The Federal Government already manages millions of acres under the US Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and DOD where recreational shooting and hunting are permitted. This includes over a million acres in Virginia within the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.
Congress has already taken away the ability of the National Park Service to regulate the carrying of firearms in our parks. Now this is to be expanded to allowing the taking of wildlife. These are steps that continue to degrade the protection our nation has chosen to afford those areas that reflect our heritage and who we are as a people.
Why take away the protection and sanctuary of our National Parks to only add to what is already available.
I urge you to remember these things the next time you vote on an issue affecting our National Park System.