House Votes to Open Much of National Park System to Hunting and Hamper Efforts to Protect Our Heritage

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   April 18, 2012
Contact:   Shannon Andrea, Director of Media Relations, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-454-3371


House Votes to Open Much of National Park System to Hunting and Hamper Efforts to Protect Our Heritage

Statement by NPCA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Craig Obey

Background:  The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday considered the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act, which as drafted, opened much of the National Park System to hunting. The bill included an exemption of sorts for some units of the system, but only for those specifically designated national parks or national monuments. The 397 units of the National Park System include a multitude of designations, including national military parks like Gettysburg, national memorials like Wright Brothers, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and Flight 93, national historical parks like San Antonio Missions and Harper’s Ferry, and many others. In an effort to maintain the status quo and treat equally all National Park Service areas that have never allowed hunting or recreational shooting, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) offered a common sense technical clarification, which the House rejected.  In addition, the House also considered an amendment to the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) which would limit presidential authority to designate national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Regrettably the amendment was accepted.

“The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed legislation that would open much of our National Park System to hunting and recreational shooting. Not only does this bill ignore the millions of families who visit, value, and love experiencing and learning about our heritage in our National Park System, but its odd treatment of many National Park Service areas is highly arbitrary and wholly inappropriate.

“There are plenty of public lands, both federal and state, that provide appropriate opportunities for hunting and recreational shooting. Yet, in the absence of a perceived national need to hunt squirrels in Frederick Douglass’s backyard, or conduct target practice at the Gettysburg Cemetery or the Flight 93 Memorial, the House has passed legislation that would seem to contemplate such ridiculous notions. Perhaps there is a need to hunt ravens at the Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site, or aid restoration of the National Mall by eliminating excess pigeons.  In the absence of the House showing any willingness to exempt such places from its bill, we are left to contemplate such absurd possibilities, however implausible they may seem.  The thoughtless approach to drafting and considering this legislation was a disservice to the House and to the richness of experience and heritage protected by our National Park System for the enjoyment of the American people.

“And, while seemingly trying, rather ineffectively, to channel Teddy Roosevelt’s love of the outdoors and hunting, the House also passed a provision designed to undercut the tradition he began as president of protecting important areas as national monuments. President Obama continued that practice when he recently designated Fort Monroe in Virginia, known as “freedom’s fortress” for its fascinating role at the beginning and end of the national scourge of slavery, as a national monument. After more than a century of that tradition made possible by the Antiquities Act, which has led to the protection of such iconic gems as the Grand Canyon, Acadia and Olympic National Parks, the House voted to make sure it’s more difficult to protect such wonderful places.”

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