NPS Retirees to Senate: Don't Use the Farm Bill to Assault the National Park System
WASHINGTON, June 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- HR 4089 is being considered as an amendment to the Farm Bill on the U.S. Senate floor and should be opposed by anyone who cares about the special places that are part of the National Park System, according to a warning from the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR). The House bill language now before the Senate would gut the Antiquities Act, the very Act that is responsible for initially setting aside some of our nation's most iconic parks, including Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Carlsbad Caverns and Acadia national parks.
Earlier, CNPSR expressed grave concerns at the passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of HR 4089, a bill that that could open most National Park System areas to hunting, trapping and recreational shooting.These areas are currently 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 that 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. H.R. 4089 has now been proposed to be attached as an amendment to the Farm Bill presently being debated on the Senate floor.
CNPSR Executive Council member Cherry Payne, retired Superintendent of Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, said: "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 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. 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."
Additionally, the bill would effectively nullify the 1906 Antiquities Act. The Antiquities Act, passed with the leadership of President Theodore Roosevelt, and which has served our nation so well for 106 years, should not be tinkered with. This Act has been used by Presidents of both parties to create national monuments, most recently by President Bush when he proclaimed a site in New York as African American Burial Grounds and by President Obama at Ft. Monroe in Virginia. In fact, every President since 1906, save three, has used the Act to shape the National Park System.
The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees Chair Maureen Finnerty said: "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. These sites include Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Carlsbad Caverns, and Acadia National Parks. 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. Finnerty continued, "We hope that the Senate will take the time to examine this bill and make the necessary changes to specifically exclude all areas of the National Park System from its requirements and eliminate the section that guts the Antiquities Act. This type of non-partisan action by the Senate would be a gift to all Americans and hold sacred our nation's legendary National Park System, acclaimed around the world.
The 800 plus members of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees are all former employees of the National Park Service with a combined over 24,000 years of stewardship of America' most precious natural and cultural resources. In their personal lives, CNPSR members reflect the broad spectrum of political affiliations. CNPSR members now strive to apply their credibility and integrity as they speak out for national park solutions that uphold law and apply sound science. The Coalition counts among its members: former National Park Service leaders at the national, regional, and park levels, park rangers, and other career professionals who devoted an average of nearly 30 years each to protecting and interpreting America's national parks on behalf of the public. For more information, visit the CNPSR Website at http://www.npsretirees.org.
SOURCE Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Washington, D.C.