More from the Coalition of National Park Retirees on the impact of new legislation on management of our National Parks.
H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would elevate fishing, hunting, and shooting over all other uses of the National Park System. Throughout the National Park System, authorized public uses are not distinguished from each other; they are all managed on the same level, unless singled out by the enabling legislation for a specific area. No one activity is given favored status throughout the System. The bills would alter that balance, however, by requiring NPS to “support and facilitate” hunting, fishing and shooting. No other public recreational activities are subject to a statutory mandate imposed on NPS to affirmatively advance the opportunities to engage in such uses of the park area’s resources. These bills would require NPS to take extra steps to assist hunters, trappers, fishermen, and recreational shooters. H.R. 4089 subsection (I) tries to brush this problem away by stating the bill does not require a “preference” to be given to these activities over other uses. This provision does not negate the fact, however, that NPS would be legally required to take action to support and facilitate hunting, fishing, and shooting, when a similar affirmative duty does not apply to any other uses.
I would point out that even if as stated above the bill does not require "preference" to be given to hunting, fishing, trapping, and recreational shooting it does open an argument for special interest groups to file law suits against the National Park Service if they do not agree with their interpretations. This would end up costing our government money and time that could be dedicated to more relevant issues. If you do not believe this could happen just look at the long history of court actions by the NRA to open parks to hunting and other cases involving the use of snow machines and personal water craft in our National Parks as just a few examples.