Policy Update Feb 25, 2016

Position on H.R. 2406, the SHARE Act

NPCA submitted the following position on H.R. 2406, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act and proposed amendments prior to consideration of the bill on the House floor.

NPCA urges members of the House of Representates to oppose H.R. 2406, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE Act) when it comes to the House floor.

NPCA urges opposition to H.R. 2406 based on the following provisions in the underlying bill:

Section 604 of Title VI would require the National Park Service to use volunteer hunters to reduce wildlife populations unless the agency has permission from a respective state not to use volunteer hunters. Imposing this requirement on national park units including national parks, national historical parks, national military parks, and national memorials, among other sites, conflicts with the Park Service’s fundamental stewardship responsibilities. The National Park Service should retain its authority to make these decisions, as serious conflicts could present themselves. We remain concerned by continued attempts to impose hunting in national park units where it conflicts with the visitor experience and values of the park.

Title IX seeks to reauthorize an important land conservation program, the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA) but in doing so, makes damaging changes that undermine the program’s integrity. FLTFA is intended to be a land-for-land exchange that disposes of, through a public process, federal land parcels of little conservation value and uses the proceeds to purchase parcels of high natural, historic and/or recreational value within federally protected lands including national parks. Parcels are only purchased from willing sellers and help more efficiently consolidate the federal estate. However, Title IX allows the Bureau of Land Management to divert funding from the program to federal land maintenance backlogs. Addressing the National Park Service backlog is a high priority for NPCA but diverting funds from other successful programs in this manner is not the way to address it. Backlogs and land acquisition both warrant congressional support. Further, Rep. Wittman’s manager’s amendment (#13) seeks to make acquisitions subject to appropriations, a proposal that undercuts the unique tool central to FLTFA: allowing a land-for-land process that does not impact appropriations but instead provides a direct funding link between disposal and acquisition.

Title XIV could have far-reaching effects on the National Park Service’s ability to manage resources in 87 coastal national parks across the country. This overreaching provision would derail the final, and fully vetted management plan for Biscayne National Park and would strip the National Park Service of its legal responsibility, under the 1916 Organic Act, to set reasonable limits on fishing to prevent overfishing, restore fish populations and habitats, and protect marine wildlife and visitor safety. The provision substitutes that responsibility with a lower standard of protection. Many of these coastal parks, including Acadia National Park, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and Channel Islands National Park, could see a weakening in regulations designed to preserve marine wildlife if this provision becomes law. The federal government is obligated to protect these resources in perpetuity for the enjoyment of all Americans.

Title XVI is a premature management provision. The National Park Service is currently preparing a Bison Management Plan for Grand Canyon National Park and will soon make recommendations on the removal or management of the hybrid bison in the park. Wildlife management of any species should be based on the best available science and objective scientific analysis. This title mandates a management plan without regard to the other stewardship responsibilities of the National Park Service.


Amendment #5 – Young: NPCA urges members to oppose this amendment that would require the withdrawal of a critical rule regulating non-subsistence hunting in national preserves in Alaska and prevent the finalization of a similar rule for national wildlife refuges in Alaska. This amendment could cause an unnecessary legal conflict between the State of Alaska and National Park Service over wildlife management. The National Park Service does not allow aggressive sport- hunting practices including spotlighting denning bears and cubs as they hibernate. The agency clarified this in an open, public process last year resulting in a regulation. The regulation does not prohibit hunting—it only addresses these highly aggressive tactics. In contrast, the state’s regulations authorize aggressive predator control hunting practices in national parks and national wildlife refuges in contravention of the agencies’ Congressional mandate to manage for “natural diversity”. This amendment will not serve the public, it will only set back efforts to clarify appropriate National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law and policies.

Amendment #24 – Beyer: NPCA urges members to support this amendment to strike Title XIV, which would require the National Park Service to obtain state approval for any action that restricts commercial or recreational fishing access to coastal waters in parks. NPS is already required to consult with states on fishing regulations and typically follows state regulations unless there is an ecological reason to set a higher protection standard due to population depletion and damage to critical habitat.

Read more from NPCA