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

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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.”

Comments

Lee - Nice attempt at a gratuitous insult. But of course- you don't address the issues.

Tell me - how does HR 4089 gut the Wilderness Act? What does HR 4089 actually change? Basically all it says is that if there is not a reason not to, hunting and fishing should be allowed. Talk of mining, drilling, capping geothermal features is nothing but hyperbole. None of that is in the bill.


Lee, I thought the same thing. First thought when I read that states would have to give approval was. "no more monuments in Utah."


So RangerLady - Suppose there are no more "monuments". Isn't it Federal land anyway? Can't they manage it any way they want? Can't it be a Park, a National Recreation Area, a Wilderness ..... and accomplish the same thing? What exactly does "monument" status do that can't be done a dozen other ways? Seems to me the only significant of Monument designation is that it can be granted by the wishes of a single person.


One anonymous above asks how this Act would "gut the Wilderness Act."

The House version of the bills says, "The Secretary of the Interior shall not implement any restrictions on the public use of a national monument until the expiration of an appropriate review period (determined by the Secretary of the Interior) providing for public input"

That's a very broad statement, and those "public activities" are not limited to hunting and fishing by this sction of the bill. It could easily be interpreted to mean no restrictions on motorized travel and other activities which are not allowed in a wilderness area.

For Anon #2 who asks, "Suppose there are no more "monuments". Isn't it Federal land anyway? Can't they manage it any way they want? "

That's part of the problem, if those federal lands are being managed by the BLM, USFS, Bureau of Reclamation, DOD, and others. Those agencies have a different mission and management policies, which means activities such as mining, timber harvesting, oil and gas development and other extractive activites are not only allowed, but in some cases encouraged. In some cases that's appropriate, but if there are special resources or values worthy of protection from development, designation as a monument has - thus far - provided an additional level of such protection.


Anon, there was no attempt at any kind of insult -- gratuitous or otherwise. I was merely pointing out an obvious fact. Please go back and really read the bills.


Jim -

It could easily be interpreted to mean no restrictions on motorized travel and other activities which are not allowed in a wilderness area.

This is specific to national monuments - not Wilderness - and what would be wrong with "public comment"?

Lee - I have read the bills and they don't say what is claimed here. If they did, you would cite the specific passages. HR 4089 says nothing of mining, oil and gas, geothermal on future designated lands, much less existing Parks. Pure hyperbole.


Re: "This is specific to national monuments - not Wilderness - and what would be wrong with "public comment"?

Yes, it's specific to national monuments - some of which include wilderness. No need to create confusion on these issues in those areas.

As to public comments: There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. A public comment period is already part of the process of any new regulations in NPS areas. However, the rather vague wording for "an appropriate review period (determined by the Secretary of the Interior)" makes me a bit uneasy, based on some past Secretaries and their underlings, not to mention opinions by a host of judges. Who's to determine how long is "appropriate"?

In addition, "shall not implement any restrictions on the public use of a national monument..." may imply - but doesn't specify - that this is limited to new restrictions. Given the number of lawyers eager for work, if this were to pass, I wouldn't be surprised to find a suit arguing against enforcement of any regulations, new or existing, in national monuments, until they've all gone though that open-ended review.

The text, as written, is simply too vague.


Mr. Hyperbole...

It's easy to play picadore from behind a series of anonymous postings.

The only thing is, with something this strident and focused, all you're doing is making everyone else wonder what your personal vested interest is.


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