Saturday, June 16, 2012

Adverse Effects of Sportsman’s Heritage Bills on the National Park System

As I have written before, the National Park System is under an attack by Congress that could turn management of our Nation's treasures on its ear.  The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees is speaking out against a bill that recently passed in the House and is now being considered in the Senate that would open most areas managed by the National Park Service to hunting, trapping, and recreational shooting.
The Federal Government already manages millions of acres where these activities are permitted and managed.  Theses areas are under the direction of the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, DOD and others.  Now special interest groups want to change practices that have been in place and upheld by Federal Courts in National Park areas since their founding.
The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees has published a paper that specifies the challenges that this change in direction of National Park Service Management will generate.  I will publish these as a series on this blog so that you may be informed and make your own decision on how this will impact our future.
One last diatribe from me; I find it hard to believe that our members of Congress can find time to consider such additions to bills rather than work on the economy, jobs, and our National debt.
Coalition of National Park Service Retirees
The House of Representatives has passed H.R. 4089, a bill that would open most units of the National Park System to hunting, trapping, and other consumptive uses of fish and wildlife and additional currently prohibited uses.  In doing so, the bill would also undermine fundamental principles of management that have governed the National Park System for decades.  A similar bill, S. 2066, had previously been introduced in the Senate, but no further action has been taken. These bills present what is perhaps the greatest threat to the National Park System throughout its history.  This briefing paper highlights some of the most significant problems with these two bills.
H.R. 4089/S.2066 would invalidate the decades-old management principle that consumptive uses of National Park System resources are prohibited unless expressly authorized.  NPS has long governed units of the National Park System based on the principle that hunting, trapping, collecting specimens and other uses that extract natural resources from park area ecosystems are not allowed, unless Congress has clearly authorized such activities.  This longstanding principle has been confirmed by the courts.  H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would eliminate this principle because they would recognize that hunting, trapping, fishing and collecting are to be affirmatively supported and facilitated on all federal lands.  As a result, H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would stand NPS management policy on its head, creating a presumption that consumptive uses are the norm, and must be allowed unless expressly prohibited.

1 comment:

  1. I strongly agree that uses not consistent with the original management plans for our national parks should not be allowed. Although I generally prefer lands to stay on the private tax rolls, we do need to protect some lands for their public value and that protection should not be undermined by special interest groups. I am, similarly, disappointed that Congress spends its time on these bills when far more important national economic issues loom.