Congressional Democrats Working to Keep Hunters Out of Santa Rosa Island

Water Canyon Beach on Santa Rosa Island. NPS Photo by Derek Lohuis.

Congressional Democrats are working to see that the omnibus spending bill working its way to President Bush contains language that would bring a halt to private hunts on part of Channel Islands National Park.

If you've been paying attention to this issue, you know the National Park Service back in 1986 signed a $30 million agreement with the family that was providing guided hunts on Santa Rosa Island to end the hunts by 2011. But in recent years U.S. Representative Hunter Duncan used legislative slight-of-hand to turn much of Santa Rosa into a private hunting reserve for disabled military personnel, even though they didn't want it.

Now U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer along with U.S. Representative Lois Capps, all Democrats from California, are working to insert language to the omnibus spending bill that calls for the Park Service's original deal to play out.

"Sen. Feinstein, Sen. Boxer, and Rep. Capps ... championed a provision in the omnibus bill that repeals a harmful law allowing exclusive deer and elk hunts to continue on the island at the expense of public access and the restoration of the native ecosystem on Santa Rosa Island in Channel Islands National Park," says Ron Sundergill, Pacific regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association.

"Thanks to this measure, non-native deer and elk will be removed from the island by 2011, giving six rare plant species found only on Santa Rose Island a fighting chance at survival. The repeal will guarantee full public access starting in 2011. Currently 90 percent of the island is closed to the public for at least four months of the year because of a commercial hunting operation. Now, all Americans will have the opportunity to visit and enjoy the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Santa Rose Island."