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NPS Retirees Say House Legislation Would Gut Antiquities Act, Lead To More Hunting In National Parks


Legislation currently pending in the U.S. Senate would, if allowed to become law, gut the Antiquities Act that so many presidents have used to preserve and protect valuable landscapes and historical settings, according to the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.

The measure is being considered as an amendment to the Farm Bill on the Senate floor and should be opposed by anyone who cares about the special places that are part of the National Park System, according to the Park Service retirees.

The bill's language would gut the Antiquities Act, which was used by past presidents to set aside places such as Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Carlsbad Caverns and Acadia national parks.

“Some of this nation’s most loved parks were first set aside and protected as national monuments and were later legislated by the Congress into national parks," said Maureen Finnerty, chair of the Coalition's Executive Council. "The modification to the Antiquities Act would require that any presidential proclamation be approved by the governor and the legislature in the state in which the potential monument would be established. Such a requirement would essentially render the Antiquities Act meaningless as such accord rarely exists.

"Moreover, the president can only employ the provisions of the Act on lands already owned by the people of the United States. It cannot be used on state or privately-owned lands," she added.

Additionally, the group says, H.R. 4089 could open up many areas of the National Park System to hunting, trapping, and recreational shooting. Most national park sites are closed to such activities in the interests of public safety, visitor enjoyment and resource protection. The House defeated an amendment to the bill that would have specifically excluded all the 397 units of the National Park System from these activities, which are already legal and appropriate on millions of acres of other public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

“NPS has long governed units of the National Park System based on the principle that hunting, trapping, collecting specimens and other uses that extract natural resources from park area ecosystems are not allowed, unless Congress has clearly authorized such activities," said former Glacier Bay National Park Superintendent Cherry Payne, a member of the Coalition's Executive Council. "This longstanding principle has been confirmed by the courts.

"H.R 4089 would eliminate this principle because it would recognize that hunting, trapping, fishing and collecting are to be affirmatively supported and facilitated on all federal lands," she added. "As a result, H.R. 4089 would stand NPS management policy on its head, creating a presumption that consumptive uses are the norm, and must be allowed unless expressly prohibited.”


Neither HR 4089 nor S.3525 would do any such thing. The issue here is that the so-called preservationists feel that the land held "for the people" means just those people with their interests. We are all owners of interest in our National Parks and ALL publicly held lands.

While I do not favor mining on National Parks I do favor managed timber harvests. Forever Wild should not mean Forever Dead. Managed forest is much healthier than one that suffers from benign neglect. I also STRONGLY favor hunting in National Parks. It is a shallow argument that hunting would make the parks unsafe. The numbers do not bear that out.

Freshmen? I think you're giving us too much credit, Rick.


That is the beauty of the Constitution. Its core principles and values transcend "cultures, populations, technologies, issues, and needs to agree".

Further, should there be a need to change, it has Article V as a mechanism to make change. Since the early/mid 1900s however, progressive have circumvented that mechanism through the use of activist judges and the power of stare decisis.

To come back to the topic, the power to declare national monuments is not a definite power delegated to the executive under the constitution. Therefore, it is unconstitutional.

Chief - I agree with most of your post. Just one clarification. The feds can do whatever they want with their land. Its when the reach out to private or state property that they overstep their bounds.

And for Rick, perhaps you should read the Constitution, the President has the power to pardon and the feds can do what they want (short of violating the Bill of Rights) on federal land. Knowledge will free you.

Yup, and I've felt the same way through the entire Federalist papers tangent, like I was listening to some freshmen sitting around the quad over espresso, debating textbooks they just read.

Don't mind me - I'll go on back to reading threads about the parks. Go on about your business.

^Nice appeal to ridicule.

Damn. I guess all those Thanksgiving turkey pardons are beyond the letter of the document then too. And I know the pronouncements about the White House Easter Egg Roll are a stretch.

"Maybe they had tinfoil hats back then, too?"

Yes. The "tinfoil hat" logical fallacy, a thought-terminating cliche which evokes Godwin's Law: The longer a message board discussion goes on [about limited government] the more likely it is for someone to reference, in this case, craziness.

The constitution is a LEGAL document, not literature to be interpreted. It is not fluid. It was meant to chain down government. If legal documents are to be reinterpreted after time, let me try that with my landlord as I argue that my legal contract (lease) means that I can indeed cause damage to the property with impunity because times have changed. Right.

Yes, there was discord among the ratifiers of the Constitution. Many of the states voted quite narrowly to ratify (34 to 32 in Rhode Island, 30 to 27 in NY, 89 to 79 in Virginia). These same states declared in their ordinances of ratircation that they reserved the right to secede.

Keep in mind that it was 13 sovereign states that created the federal government, not the federal government that created the states. (Madison said that the Constitution was ratified "not as individuals composing one entire nation, but as composing the distinct and independent States to which they respectively belong.")

Jefferson and Madison wrote the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, both of which announced the right of nullification. The latter stated that the states were "not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but by a compact...the... delegated to [that government] certain DEFINITE powers, reserving...the residuary mass of right to their own self-government." [Emphasis added.]

Violations of the constitution were what led southern states to secede. Then Lincoln destroyed the constitution and consolidated federal power, and in the process violated the First Amendment by shutting down Northern newspapers that dissented against his policies. He also suspended the writ of habeus corpus for the length of his entire administration and threw thousands of political dissenters into prison without due process. In short, he destroyed the Republic and killed the constitution.

So today we have what were once sovereign states comprising voluntary federation now subjugated to the status of mere political administrative units of a monolithic United States government.

To come back to the topic, the power to declare national monuments is not a definite power delegated to the executive under the constitution. Therefore, it is unconstitutional.

But when has the constitution ever stopped the government from power grabs? Andrew Jackson challenged the Supreme Court to enforce the constitution and sent my ancestors down the Trail of Tears.

As Jefferson wrote, "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yeild, and government to gain ground."

You can argue all you want but until you provide evidence that Madison or other primary figures thought that the government should do all it is doing today, your arguements are noise and carry no weight.

Not sure about that. But now that I'm logged in properly (post-Sandy), I'll defer to Kurt's point above. Thanks for the discussion, anon.

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