By Miriam Raftery
March 4, 2019 (San Diego) – Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) has introduced a resolution calling on the House of Representatives to prioritize hunting and recreational access to public lands. The action seeks to reinforce Executive Order 13443 issued by President George W. Bush.
“President Bush’s executive order called on all federal land management agencies, BLM, US Forest Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service, etc. to review their protocols and regulations and determine avenues to open up public lands for recreational activities, including shooting, that was consistent with federal environmental law,” says Hunter’s spokesman, Michael Harrison, told ECM “ In other words, if there are areas where this activity would not be permitted under federal law, then that would be maintained, but if there were areas that were being under-utilized, or in which bureaucratic regulations not based on scientific data was preventing access, then that should be reviewed and opened up. Despite this executive order, the Obama Administration did next to nothing to carry it through while, at the same time, not rescinding it. Congressman Hunter’s resolution, which was also introduced in the last Congress, calls for action on this order and expresses the sense of Congress that the federal land management agencies have a responsibility to carry it through.”
“Our public lands are a national treasure utilized by families all across America,” said Congressman Hunter. “Far too often, federal agencies spend more time and effort creating bureaucratic barriers for hunters and other people who enjoy the outdoors. From small, tiresome rules, to outright banning accessibility, this is an ongoing problem for many, particularly families in San Diego County who use public lands as an affordable means of recreation. We can fix this.”
Congressman Hunter’s resolution reaffirms congressional intent that federal land management agencies have an obligation and mandate to ensure hunters and outdoor enthusiasts not only have access to public lands, but also play a role in helping shape guidelines and regulations that involve their use. Many local outdoor organizations and advocacy groups in San Diego, Riverside and Imperial Counties support Congressman Hunter’s resolution which is the most recent action item of what he’s termed his “First 100-Day Initiative” of “common sense reforms.”
It is unclear whether some environmental or conservation groups may oppose expansion of hunting or other activities on public lands, particularly National Parks, where hunting is currently prohibited.