Policy Update Jun 13, 2017

Position on Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act

NPCA shared the following position on the Discussion Draft of the “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE Act)” with the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands ahead of a legislative hearing on June 14, 2017.

NPCA is concerned with many of the bill’s provisions that seek to erode public engagement and participation in public land management decisions and the many waivers of environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Our federal public lands belong to all Americans and the public should have the opportunity to provide input on how those lands are managed. NEPA has worked to protect our lands, waters, wildlife and visitor health for years. NPCA encourages the committee to ensure all Americans have the opportunity to participate in public land management decisions.

Title IX – State Approval of Fishing Restriction

Section 901 could have far-reaching effects on the National Park Service’s ability to manage resources in 88 coastal national parks across the country. The federal government is obligated to protect these resources in perpetuity for the enjoyment of all Americans. This overreaching provision 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. The provision substitutes that responsibility with a lower standard of protection. Many coastal parks, including Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical 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. Additionally, this provision would derail the final vetted management plan for Biscayne National Park, a park that desperately needs protection for its threatened coral reef ecosystem and marine wildlife.

Title XIII, Section 1301 – Withdrawal of Existing Rule Regarding Hunting and Trapping in Alaska

This provision would require the withdrawal of a critical rule regulating non-subsistence hunting in national preserves in Alaska and prevent the promulgation of a substantially similar rule in the future. Section 1301 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 a 2015 open, public process 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 agency’s congressional mandate to manage for “natural diversity.” This provision will not serve the public, it will only set back efforts to clarify appropriate National Park Service law and policies.

Title XVI, Section 1602 – Reissuance of Final Rule Regarding Gray Wolves in Wyoming

In March 2017, a federal appeals court removed protections for gray wolves in Wyoming which allowed the State of Wyoming to move forward with its Wyoming Wolf Management Plan. The state has proceeded with season-setting meetings to establish quotas for how many and where wolves can be shot during an upcoming 2017 fall hunting season. Section 1602 is completely unnecessary since the state has already assumed management authority from the federal government and the Management Plan dictates how many breeding pairs and overall number of wolves are required under law. NPCA remains very concerned about how an aggressive hunt on the boundaries of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks will affect the future enjoyment of park wildlife by the millions of visitors who travel to these majestic parks to glimpse wolves in Wyoming.