By Andy Treharne, Senior Director, Federal Land Policy
Today, the National Park Service announced a forthcoming proposal that would allow archery hunters to traverse National Park Service (NPS) lands with unarmed bows and crossbows. A longstanding priority for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and other members of the sportsmen’s community, this change would provide access to adjacent public and private lands that are technically open to hunting, but cannot be utilized by archery hunters without obtaining a permit or violating existing federal regulations.
Many of these access challenges are particularly notable in places where it is physically impossible or functionally impractical to access parcels managed by agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) because they are adjacent to National Park Service-managed lands. In 2010, Congress modified federal law to allow firearm hunters to cross Park Service properties, but the same opportunities have thus far not been granted to those that choose to utilize archery equipment.
For several years, CSF has been working with members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) to pursue a legislative remedy that would make it clear that archery hunters can legally access public and private lands adjacent to NPS-managed properties. Thanks to the Interior Department’s leadership under Secretary Ryan Zinke and the NPS’s work to address this issue, there may finally be light at the end of the tunnel.
According to a release from the NPS, updated regulations would have no impact on hunting regulations within a given national park. Possessing bows and crossbows in this manner would be subject to applicable state laws and would not be allowed if the individual is otherwise prohibited by law from possessing a bow or crossbow.
To express support for this much needed change, please visit regulations.gov and search for regulation identifier number (RIN) “1024-AE44”. The comment period will be open from March 2, 2018, until May 1, 2018.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?