Opening the Wilderness: Does a New Hunting Bill Put Parks in Danger?

Shutterstock_Kalakutskiy MikhailPhoto: Kalakutskiy Mikhail/Shutterstock

This fall, Hal Herring plans to go backcountry hunting with his son near his Montana home. If they both take an elk, they'll be able to provide the family with enough meat for the following year. But should House bill 4089 pass into law, he's worried that such a hunting trip could be jeopardized. Somewhat ironically, H.R. 4089, the Sportsmen's Heritage Act, is described as pro-hunting legislation.

The bill, which has passed through the House and is awaiting a vote in the Senate, uses language that its opponents—which include wilderness advocates, conservationists and some hunting groups—believe could lead to motorized vehicles being allowed into protected wilderness areas. Other parts of the bill would open the door to hunting and shooting in national parks system lands that currently ban those activities. The bill would also require state approval before the president could declare any new national monument, a move that punches a hole in the Antiquities Act—a legislative tool that has been used to protect many important areas in the past, including the Grand Canyon. 

Road to Ruin?
If the roadless areas in which Herring hunts were open to motorized access the game would be more scarce and the regulations and limits around access would likely become more onerous, he says.

"We need to cease and desist this endless attack on roadless areas and wilderness by people who have no idea what they're talking about," says Herring, who, aside from being an avid hunter and angler, is a journalist. "We already have millions of acres on which to cavort on ATVs. Road access into wilderness means more regulated hunting."

Filed To: Adventure, Politics, Nature, Exploration, Camping

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