Guest Column: Election Day And The Dangers Of H.R. 4089, The Sportsmen’s Heritage Bill

In the not-so-distant past, Republicans as well as Democrats were strong proponents of America’s public lands. And both parties usually supported the national parks—most beloved of all public lands. But now, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan reflect the contempt of the Republican Party’s far right for all public lands—even the national parks, long renowned as “America’s Best Idea.”

No matter how much Romney might claim he loves the national parks, he can’t escape the fact that he chose a running mate who voted for the “Sportsmen’s Heritage” bill (H.R. 4089). In classic Tea Party fashion, proponents tell the public this is only a pro-hunting measure. But in reality it permits such impacts as extensive hunting, trapping and off-road vehicle use in the national park system. Even Civil War battlefields parks are at risk.

The Democrat-controlled Senate has held up the bill so far; but a Republican-dominated Senate in 2013 could be supportive. Thus, tragically, a Romney-Ryan election could reverse nearly 140 years of Republican Party support for the national parks, beginning with President Grant signing the 1872 law establishing Yellowstone—the world’s first national park.

Republicans And The National Parks

By the close of the 19th century, Republican presidents had ushered in three more giants of the system: Sequoia, Yosemite, and Mount Rainier national parks. They soon added Crater Lake, Mesa Verde and Glacier, among others.

Moreover, in 1906 Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law. Roosevelt then used his newly minted Antiquities Act executive authority to proclaim 18 “national monuments” on the public lands, including Grand Canyon and Olympic—later “elevated” to national park status, as happened with many national monuments. Approximately one-quarter of the nearly 400 units in today’s National Park System were created by authority of the Antiquities Act. Republican presidents helped mightily to build the bedrock foundation for this world-renowned park system.

Since Theodore Roosevelt, the Republican president who benefited the National Park System most was none other than Richard Nixon, with 26 parks to his credit. More recently, President George W. Bush used his Antiquities Act authority to establish the 139,797 square-mile Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Not part of the National Park System, this monument encompasses the northwestern Hawaiian Archipelago, and is one of the world’s largest marine reserves.

The national parks are the pride of the American Republic. In addition, many of them are cash cows. They boost the national economy, creating jobs and economic opportunity in the parks and surrounding areas. The annual national park system visitor-count now totals just below 300 million.

How H.R. 4089 Harms The System

Yet despite the Republican Party legacy, Tea Party Republicans intend to subject the national park idea to the crippling mandates of the Sportsmen’s Heritage bill—such as:

* Permitting hunting and trapping in extensive areas of the National Park System where they are now prohibited, including designated wilderness areas; and defining these activities so as to include the option for recreational and even commercial hunting and trapping. This also includes historical parks, such as Civil War battlefields.

* Training hunting dogs in national parks, including field trials.

* Permitting off-road vehicles in national parks to enable hunters to ride noisy, ground-disturbing machines into these long-established wildlife sanctuaries to find and kill (or spook) animals—thereby sharply decreasing wildlife viewing, a major attraction for park visitors.

* Emasculating the Antiquities Act to diminish the president’s ability to quickly protect threatened nationally significant public lands by proclaiming national monuments.

* Making null and void the all-important National Environmental Policy Act as it relates to Sportsmen’s Heritage. With a few exceptions, the bill intentionally obstructs scientific studies, and thus public information, on the impacts of Sportsmen’s Heritage.

Deeply concerned, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (including many of the Service’s senior leaders from recent decades) views this bill as “perhaps the greatest threat to the National Park System throughout its history.” And there must be millions of hunters and non-hunting Americans who object to such damaging, disruptive intrusions into the national parks. The parks are, after all, national icons.

Mitt Romney has stated that he does “not know why the government owns so much” of America’s public lands (even though public lands have been around since George Washington’s time). If Republicans control the White House and Senate in 2013, Sportsmen’s Heritage may indeed become law. The voters must decide. But it is clear that very few people know about this bill before Congress, so even after the election it’s important to get the word out.

Richard West Sellars is a retired National Park Service historian and author of Preserving Nature in the National Parks: A History (Yale University Press, 1997, 2009). This book inspired the Natural Resource Challenge, a multi-year initiative by Congress to revitalize the Park Service’s natural resource and science programs. The Challenge made possible what Stewart Udall, former secretary of the interior, called “the greatest advances in scientific natural resource preservation in the history of the national parks.”

Comments

It's too bad this article was not printed in the main stream news. Many people will never understand the damage this bill will create. I am 62, an avid outdoorsman (have been all my life) and wonder everday what legacy will we leave for our children and grand children. Our past presidents had the foresight to preserve these lands for all to come and in one fell swoop it may all come to an end. If Romney/Ryan have their way, all we will see in our national parks will be fracking, mining and logging, a sad day for all of us.

Yes, this should be published far and wide. How can we go about obtaining permission to send it to some of our local newspapers in hopes they will help share it?

Email the link, Lee. I know Dick wants it to get as much exposure as possible.

The problem with so much of what comes out of environmental groups is that every potential harm to the environment gets the DEFCON1 response - and not everything deserves that. In the process, the truth sometimes gets put on the backburner. I don't even like this bill, and I'm not a hunter or a fisherman, but we should at least be honest about what this bill actually proposes to do.

First, and most importantly, Sec 104(h) states:

(h) Areas Not Affected- Nothing in this title requires the opening of national park or national monuments under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service to hunting or recreational shooting.

In other words - HR 4089 is not going to open Yosemite or Yellowstone to hunting or shooting or off-road vehicles. The line about hunting dogs in "national parks", unless that means "national park system", is clearly erroneous, as the word "hunting" in the act includes training of hunting dogs. Nor does anything in the act permit the use of off-road vehicles to facilitate hunting - the law doesn't contain the word "road" or "vehicle."

Moreover, the law provides that "

(3) discretionary limitations on recreational fishing, hunting, and shooting determined to be necessary and reasonable as supported by the best scientific evidence and advanced through a transparent public process.

"

are still permissible. In other words, the act does not automatically open up every piece of public land - it's hard to imagine that preventing hunting on a civil war battlefield isn't a reasonable discretionary limitation, if the implementing law for that park doesn't already prohibit hunting

Fundamentally, what HR 4089 (outside of the Antiquities Act restrictions) does is changes the presumption among land managers that hunting is an activity that should have to be specifically permitted, to hunting that is an activity that has to be specifically prohibited. Greatest threat ever to the national park system? That's truly difficult to imagine.

As for the Antiquities Act - it has had a long and distinguished history, but just because something has been beneficial for over a hundred years doesn't mean that it necessarily has to stay that way. The United States is pretty well catalouged, and our environmentally sensitive federal lands are far better protected than they were in the early 1900s. It's hard to imagine there are vast areas of national park quality federal lands that are so totally unprotected as to need the extraordinary national monument power. Nearly all the national monuments created since Staircase-Escalanate would either be completely unaffected (as not in the continental US) or have been already reasonably protected lands just being "upgraded" and not controversial. I can live with having to get the approval of governors/legislatures for that.

Anonymous, rather than go point by point, here's a legal analysis of the act prepared for the National Parks Conservation Association that addresses your doubts:

http://www.npca.org/assets/pdf/Legal_Impact_of_HR_4089.pdf

The NPCA has their interpretation, but the NPCA is a group that has a very vested interest in making this bill appear as bad as possible. At numerous points, one could disagree with their work - for instance, they give no weight to the phrase "Areas Not Affected" in the title of 104(h). They say that "resource conservation" means natural resources as opposed to generally preserving the resource, which is questionable. The "facilitation" analysis is very questionable - the law has a "no priority" clause, and it could just as easily be read to refer to regulatory facilitation vice building roads/permitting ORV use.

As I've said - I'm not a fan of the bill, I'm just not sure that it's truly as bad as the NPCA says it is.

Kurt, the pdf article you provide does not alleviate annon 10:28's points. This article was prepared FOR the NPCA BY someone against the bill. So the interpretation provided is null and void. The person(s) who submitted the bill should provide exactly what was meant in all aspects. Then, good or bad, I will believe what is assumed by the pdf writer.

I have thought for many many months that this site is nothing more than a political forum. Gone are the days in the 70's thru early 90's when we all worked togther in the parks, and certainly many decades before that. Thank goodness (I am sure saying thank God is politcally incorrect here) the bulk of the NPS parks were well established before the last two decades.

I am surprised annon 10:28 hasn't been fully pounced upon yet by the Stalwart Six, the guardians of this website. But then its early in the day: give them time, give them time.

Dottie el al, could you provide an alternative legal interpretation that runs contrary to the one provided the NPCA?

Congress -- both sides -- manages to insert loopholes into many pieces of legislation by being open-ended rather than definitive. The devil's advocate would say, 'Why wouldn't the sponsors come right out and say this act does not apply to the National Park System," instead of saying that it doesn't "require" opening the parks to hunting if they didn't want to leave that possibility open? Just as it doesn't require the parks to be open to hunting, it doesn't prevent them from being opened, either.

And re your belief that this site is nothing more than a political forum, Dottie, I don't see how you can reach that interpretation by looking through the vast library of articles: hiking stories, lodging stories, trip stories, wildlife stories, birding stories, park guides, gear reviews, book reviews, videos, puzzles, and on and on.

Sadly, politics do enter into the present-day management and future of the parks, and we'd be remiss if we didn't approach those issues. We have reached out to some on the GOP side, most notably Rep. Rob Bishop, for their views on the issues, but they've declined. We're certainly open to hearing diverse opinions, and if you know of anyone from any political view who'd take up our offer we'd appreciate hearing from them.

All this political talk is great but do you have a video GW Bush saying the word "Papahanaumokuakea"?

Off, that would have to be a real hoot! (But it would also be a hoot if I tried to pronounce it.)


'Why wouldn't the sponsors come right out and say this act does not apply to the National Park System," instead of saying that it doesn't "require" opening the parks to hunting if they didn't want to leave that possibility open?


I would suspect because they did want to leave that possibility open. But, just as is the case today, that decision is left up to the park not mandated by the act as would be implied by the draconian warnings of the above article.


could you provide an alternative legal interpretation that runs contrary to the one provided the NPCA?


Try this:

http://www.ussportsmen.org/legislative-action/h-r-4089-provides-fundraising-bonanza-for-extremist-groups/

For whatever it's worth, my Republican friends who work in Washington are appalled by this bill.

It's a damn shame that the general public is FAR more concerned about the National Debt than the environment ... I mean, seriously folks - if we don't act now to preserve nature and all it's beautiful wildlife and just insist on destroying this wonderful planet in the name of greedy, coporate "business" , exactly what kind of world will our children actually have to LIVE in anyway? ... will share this on my wall...

Here's another position piece on this legislation to consider, from the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees:

Adverse Effects of Sportsmen’s Heritage Bills on the National Park System

Coalition of National Park Service Retirees

The House of Representatives has passed H.R. 4089, a bill that would open most units of the National Park System to hunting, trapping, and other consumptive uses of fish and wildlife and additional currently prohibited uses. In doing so, the bill would also undermine fundamental principles of management that have governed the National Park System for decades. A similar bill, S. 2066, had previously been introduced in the Senate, but no further action has been taken. These bills present what is perhaps the greatest threat to the National Park System throughout its history. This briefing paper highlights some of the most significant problems with these two bills.

H.R. 4089/S.2066 would invalidate the decades-old management principle that consumptive uses of National Park System resources are prohibited unless expressly authorized. 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. This longstanding principle has been confirmed by the courts. H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would eliminate this principle because they would recognize that hunting, trapping, fishing and collecting are to be affirmatively supported and facilitated on all federal lands. As a result, H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would stand NPS management policy on its head, creating a presumption that consumptive uses are the norm, and must be allowed unless expressly prohibited.

H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would elevate fishing, hunting, and shooting over all other uses of the National Park System. Throughout the National Park System, authorized public uses are not distinguished from each other; they are all managed on the same level, unless singled out by the enabling legislation for a specific area. No one activity is given favored status throughout the System. The bills would alter that balance, however, by requiring NPS to “support and facilitate” hunting, fishing and shooting. No other public recreational activities are subject to a statutory mandate imposed on NPS to affirmatively advance the opportunities to engage in such uses of the park area’s resources. These bills would require NPS to take extra steps to assist hunters, trappers, fishermen, and recreational shooters. H.R. 4089 subsection (I) tries to brush this problem away by stating the bill does not require a “preference” to be given to these activities over other uses. This provision does not negate the fact, however, that NPS would be legally required to take action to support and facilitate hunting, fishing, and shooting, when a similar affirmative duty does not apply to any other uses.

H.R. 4089/S. 2066 does not maintain the current prohibition on hunting, trapping, collecting wildlife and shooting in most national parks and monuments. H.R. 4089 subsection (h) says that “[n]othing in this title requires the opening of national park[s] or national monuments under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service to hunting or recreational shooting.” It should be noted that recreational fishing is not included in the proviso; hence, any national park or monument now closed to such an activity would be opened. S. 2066 is even more problematic because it does not even include this provision, and therefore would compel NPS to allow these consumptive use activities in parks and monuments where they are currently prohibited.

This provision of H.R. 4089 does nothing to protect parks and monuments. While the provision does not “require opening” such areas, the bill still requires NPS to “support” and “facilitate” hunting, trapping, collecting and shooting. Even without a mandate to open such an area, there would be no way to satisfy the “support” and “facilitate” duty without opening parks and monuments. In addition, most parks and monuments are closed by virtue of the principle described above that these consumptive uses are prohibited unless expressly authorized. But that principle would be invalidated by these bills. Quite simply, if H.R. 4089/S. 2066 intended to maintain the status quo in parks and monuments, it could plainly state that the bills do not apply to such areas (or, even better, to any unit of the National Park System).

H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would require NPS to rewrite many of the regulations that have applied to the National Park System for decades and that serve as a successful framework for conservation and public use of all park areas. NPS currently applies a concise, clear and accepted set of regulations to the management and use of National Park System units. Some rules apply to all park areas; others govern specific units. These regulations would have to be revised to facilitate the consumptive use activities authorized by the bills. This change alone would be very expensive and time-consuming for the public and NPS. In addition, because these bills would invalidate the fundamental NPS principle that consumptive uses are not allowed unless expressly authorized, as discussed above, even the general regulations for other activities would have to be revised. The time-tested NPS management principle would have to be undone. Doing so will result in sweeping new regulations that will take many years to complete and will result in great expense and public and administrative burden. There is likely to be considerable confusion for the public and park managers over what activities are allowed during the development and implementation phase of the new regulations. When the new regulations are in place, the protection provided to park resources and public use would be greatly diminished because of the broad effect of these bills.

H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would require most NPS management policies, plans, and orders to be revised, at great expense and administrative burden, to “evaluate the effects of such plans on hunting, fishing and shooting.” NPS manages National Park System units under an impressive and important array of plans designed to fulfill each unit’s conservation and public use goals. These bills provide that every such plan “shall include a specific evaluation of the effects of such plans on opportunities to engage in recreational fishing, hunting, or shooting.” H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would define new requirements for such opportunities, and no existing plans include such an “evaluation.” Meeting this obligation would require many years and vast amounts of money to fulfill. At a time when federal budgets are shrinking and NPS is challenged to protect its existing resources, imposing this cost on the National Park System would have devastating effects.

H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would prohibit the application of the Nation’s most important environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), to the NPS actions required by the bills to “support and facilitate” hunting, trapping, fishing, and shooting. Enacted in 1970, NEPA has ensured that federal agencies analyze and consider the environmental consequences of their actions. To do so, an environmental assessment (EA) or environment impact statement (EIS) is usually prepared. These bills would prohibit an EIS (by declaring pro-hunting, fishing and shooting actions by NPS would not be “a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment) or even an EA (by prohibiting the “consideration of environmental effects”). As a result, fulfilling H.R. 4089/S. 2066 to support and facilitate hunting, fishing and shooting would take place without any analysis of the effect on the environment, including the very fish and wildlife populations that the “recreational anglers and hunters” seek to conserve.

H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would deprive the public of a role in commenting on the management of National Park System units for purposes of facilitating and supporting hunting, trapping, fishing, and shooting. NEPA does more than require an environmental impact analysis. It also requires that federal agencies allow the public to participate in decisions by reviewing EAs and EISs and submitting comments. Because EAs and EISs would not be allowed, the public would be deprived of information about environmental impacts and the chance to play a role in government decisions by commenting on NEPA documents.

H.R. 4089/S. 2066 impose limitations on the ability of NPS to close areas to hunting, fishing, or shooting, or impose restrictions, including for public safety and environmental reasons. The bills allow the imposition of “discretionary limitations” on these sportsmen activities. The limitations must be “necessary and reasonable,” but the bills do not say “necessary” for what. Thus, considering the mandate in the bills to support and facilitate these “sportsmen” activities, it could be very difficult to make a finding of necessity. The ability to impose limitations would be further hampered because NEPA environmental reviews would not be conducted. Thus, NPS would lose the ability to bring environmental information to bear. Without the NEPA tools, NPS would be hard pressed to develop the “best scientific evidence” that would be required by H.R. 4089/S. 2066 to impose limitations. In addition, the bills require the decision to impose limitations to be the result of a “transparent public process,” but by rendering NEPA ineffective, if not inapplicable, the transparency necessary for environmental review would be defeated. Opponents of any NPS limitations would have a strong upper hand because NPS would have difficulty developing administrative records to support actions to restrict these activities without the benefit of NEPA.

H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would increase the cost and complexity of NPS decision-making to close areas more than 640 acres in size to fishing or hunting by mandating coordination with state agencies. The National Park System consists almost exclusively of federal land. Decisions regarding management of NPS lands are often subject to consultation with state agencies, but that is the case when the state has an identifiable interest or expertise. Most actions to close NPS lands to certain uses do not present state agency questions. While NPS follows a good neighbor policy, a mandate to “coordinate” with state agencies before any closure of more than 640 acres elevates form over substance and could require an additional layer of government bureaucracy that serves no useful purpose. At a time when the broad political spectrum is calling for streamlining agency procedures, imposing a mandatory function for coordination with the state for every closure above 640 acres, without regard to the interests or role of the state, is counter-productive and inefficient.

H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would require designated wilderness and wilderness study areas to be managed for the support of hunting, fishing and shooting, rather than to preserve wilderness characteristics, including artificial levels of wildlife. Under current law, wilderness and wilderness study areas are to be managed to preserve wilderness characteristics – primeval character, solitude, protection of the “earth and its community of life” in a state that is “untrammeled by man.” Under H.R. 4089/S. 2066, those purposes would be changed to require “the provision of opportunities for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting.” In many wilderness areas, such activities are not consistent with wilderness values. In addition, wilderness would have to be managed to result in “sustainable recreational opportunities.” The term “sustainable” is not defined, but probably means maintaining fish and wildlife populations at a point where they can be used to support human uses of hunting and fishing, even if at artificial, non-natural levels. These changes would take the “wilderness” out of many wilderness areas.

H.R. 4089/S. 2066 equates trapping with hunting, and it would require that trapping be allowed, for even non-recreational purposes, in hundreds of areas where it is currently prohibited. The bills define “hunting” to include “trapping.” This is a highly unusual definition that does not equate with a common understanding of “hunting.” Indeed, Congress has repeatedly distinguished trapping from hunting by specifying in which units such activities can occur. In fact, trapping is currently allowed in only 62 Park System areas. Moreover, because the term hunting is not defined by the bills to be solely for recreational purposes (in contrast to the definition of “recreational fishing” and “recreational shooting”), trapping for any purpose, including commercial uses, could be among the activities that NPS would have to support and facilitate.

H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would allow for the pursuit, capture and collection of wildlife for any purpose. It has long been a solid principle of National Park System management that the natural resources of these areas belong to all Americans. Ranging from minerals to timber to plants to wildlife, National Park System resources are not to be removed, except in closely regulated and limited circumstances. H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would abandon that principle for wildlife because it defines “hunting” -- which must be “supported and facilitated” -- to include the “pursuit,” “capture” and “collecting” of “wildlife.” The activity could be undertaken by any “authorized means.” Thus, park area visitors could come onto National Park System lands and pursue wildlife to capture it, collect it, and remove it for personal use. And, as noted above for trapping, the term “hunting” is not qualified in the definition section to be only “recreational,” as is the case for the terms “recreational fishing” and “recreational shooting,” thereby opening the door to the potential capture of wildlife in these areas for commercial purposes.

H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would require the use of “skilled volunteers” to participate in culling to control overpopulations of wildlife, regardless of cost and public safety consideration and the availability of better trained agency professionals. H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would force NPS to use “skilled volunteers” to cull wildlife. The only way skilled volunteers would not have to be used is when the head of the agency justifies not doing so “based on the best scientific data or applicable federal statutes.” In many cases, the decision not to use volunteers has nothing to do with science, but instead with public safety, cost, and efficiency considerations. Such factors would be irrelevant, regardless of how compelling they would be in a particular park area for not using volunteers. The bills also provide no guidance as to what constitutes the requisite level of “skill” for the volunteers.

H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would open NPS areas to ORVs. NPS has long administered National Park System units to limit the use of ORVs. This restriction is reflected in Executive Order 11644, issued by President Nixon, and NPS regulations. The bills, however, require NPS to “facilitate use of and access to” lands for these activities. (Note, this provision also expands to cover “fishing,” not the defined term of “recreational fishing,” thereby apparently including commercial fishing). Facilitating such access would, in many cases, require allowing motorized access, because of the remote location of fishing and hunting areas.

H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would require NPS units to support and facilitate the potentially dangerous activity of training hunting dogs, including in field trials. The bills would add the activity of training hunting dogs to the definition of hunting, thereby making it part of the activities that NPS must support and facilitate. NPS has long viewed activities like training one’s dog as a private activity not suitable for public areas shared by many users. Dogs are allowed in most NPS units, subject to leash and other requirements. The reason for doing so is to avoid potential conflicts between other visitors and dogs, harmful interactions between dogs and wildlife, sanitary problems associated with dog waste, and other practical management problems. H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would make the current management requirements for dogs unworkable, and would require significant revisions to rules and NPS visitor use and safety procedures. Moreover, the bills do not define what is considered legitimate “training,” and very problematic practices are often used to train hunting dogs, such as chasing and flushing wildlife. Such activities would greatly disrupt other uses of park areas and threaten natural resources.

H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would eviscerate the 1906 Antiquities Act. Many units of the National Park System have been created as national monuments by Presidential proclamation under the Antiquities Act, a law that has worked well for this purpose since it was enacted in 1906. Every President, save three since 1906, has utilized this act to create national monuments. These bills would impose a major impediment on the designation of national monuments by requiring approval of the Governor and legislature of the affected states. Needless to say, state-level political support for national monument designation is unlikely in most cases. Even if designation could still occur, significant trade-offs could be necessary to satisfy state concerns. This is a particularly difficult provision to understand as national monuments are created out of land already owned by the people of the United States for federal purposes of protecting nationally significant “historic landmarks, historic and pre-historic structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest.” The Act does not apply to state or privately-owned land. This Presidential duty should not be subject to state politics.

Since these bills represent such fundamental changes in the management of our National Park System, are such a radical departure from current policy, and would be prohibitively expensive to implement, these bills should either specifically exclude all areas of the National Park System from their provisions or should be defeated.

Anon 8:47

If our country goes bankrupt, the National Parks will be the last thing people will worry about.

And for Kurt,that is the same laundry list of exagerations and hyperboly that have been discredited before.

Discredited by whom?

Lee - read the links I provided above for starts.

Anonymous, Bill Horn long has worked for motorized access on public lands, including park lands, so I'm not sure he's a good source to dispel concerns over the measure.

Discrediting anything requires credible sources. I noted that one of your postings comes from a very questionable source. Not sure about the second one. Sources need to be vetted, too.

The second posting is more reasonable, but the writer makes it clear that he has concerns about the measure, too.

Kurt,

Bill Horn is no more bias then the sources you used though he seems to connect specific language of the bill to the disputed claims far more efficiently. The second source I referenced starts off with "I’m against HR 4089," but goes on to cite specifics of where your sources are wrong.

Might I suggest that rather than attacking the sources, attack the issues. For example, show me where the legislation says hunting will be allowed in every park.

It's really tiresome to read hypocritical concerns about the deficit when Republican economic and foreign policies are the primary cause of such deficits (unjust war in Iraq, tax cuts for the super rich, sending jobs overseas so as to increase the income of CEO's and large stock holders, ad nauseam). And, as pointed out above, it is environmental degradation, not the deficit, that is the long-term threat to the nation. But of course many conservatives think they'll be caught up in the air where they'll watch the creation being destroyed, and so why care for your neighbor? (Parks are part of caring for one's neighbor, at least IMO. And they help drive local economies.)

After last night, I think people who care about parks and environmental issues can heave a sigh of relief. We've been handed a reprieve.

This is all moot. The bill is now assuredly DOA in the Senate. Phew!

Moot for now, maybe. But there's always the future . . .

Anon 10:41 - You are just flat out wrong re the causes of the deficit. Military spending is near historic lows and the deficit has tripled since the war in Iraq was surrendered. Tax revenues went UP 50% in the five years after the Bush tax cuts. How could higher revenues create a larger deficit? Finally using overseas markets and overseas sources to increase US business hardly creates a deficit. Our overwhelming deficit was caused by government meddling in the housing market and excessive entitlement spending. And you can kiss your parks goodby if the US ends up like Greece and we are certainly on that path.