Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Duncan Hunter At It Again

Back in December, we wanted to know why Representative Duncan Hunter (CA-52) wanted to steal a national park and turn in back over to a private trophy hunting concession? Under intense pressure from Democrats and environmental groups, Hunter dropped his proposal to steal California's Santa Rosa Island (part of the Channel Islands National Park) from the American people. This December raid was his second attempt to allow the private hunting concession to remain in charge of the island and exclude the public from the park.

Well, Hunter, who heads the Armed Services Committee, is back with a new proposal to insure that the public is excluded from the park that our tax dollars paid for, while hunting activities continue on the island. This time he is attaching the proposal to the Department of Defense authorization bill. A bit of an earmark for the trophy hunting concession on the island.

Last year, Hunter wanted to annex the island completely and turn its operation over to the Department of the Navy. The commercial hunting business would be allowed to remain, but provisions would be made for the military and disabled veterans to use the island's facilities for hunting. Why the military and disabled veterans couldn't be allowed to use any of the millions of acres of public land already under government management is unclear. Or, why these same military hunters couldn't be accommodated on the other millions of acres of land under the control of the Department of Defense was equally unclear.

Hunter wants Santa Rosa Island and he wants the commercial business on that island to continue. His latest proposal leaves the island under the control of the Department of the Interior, but it abrogates the original agreement between the island's previous owners and commercial hunting concessionaire that would end the hunting operation in 2011.

In effect, Hunter's new proposal turns the island into a private hunting preserve under government sponsorship. In this case the general public would be excluded from the island for safety reasons, while trophy hunters would be free to use the facilities. Military hunters, disabled veterans and members of congress would also have access to the hunter facilities.

Once again, Democrats, enviromentalist and the National Park Service are trying to stop Hunter's land grab.

Hunter's proposal angered Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara), whose district includes Santa Rosa Island. Capps' aides distributed the bill language to reporters Monday.

"This is Chairman Hunter's third attempt in less than a year to exclude the public from accessing the national park that they paid $30 million for. The issue of Santa Rosa Island has no place in the defense authorization bill," Capps said.

"I am firmly opposed to this unilateral effort and will join hands with Republicans, Democrats and environmentalists to ensure the island is not turned into a private reserve," Feinstein said.


"Saying it is more important to have an opportunity to hunt a trophy animal that doesn't even belong on the island than to protect the other species in the park, to me that's what's fairly disturbing about this," said Russell Galipeau, the park superintendent.
Why is Hunter obsessed with this project? With so many other alternatives, why does Hunter persist in trying to steal a national park from U.S. taxpayers and give to back to a commercial trophy hunting operation?