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Rep. Hunter Still Taking Aim on Channel Islands NP


    Congressman Duncan Hunter just can't satisfy that itch to cordon off part of Channel Islands National Park so he can create a hunting preserve for the military.
    You remember this guy. Back in December I posted about his dream to turn Santa Rosa Island into a hunting grounds where disabled veterans and active members of the Armed Forces could hunt Roosevelt elk and mule deer to their heart's desire.
    While it seemed like this pipe dream had burst late last year, now the Republican from California is back at it, trying to slip language into a defense authorization bill to create this boondoggle.

    Congresswoman Lois Capps isn't thrilled with Rep. Hunter's efforts, in large part because Channel Islands NP is part of her district. She sees exactly what her colleague is trying to do -- find a loophole through an agreement that currently calls for hunting on the 52,794-acre island to end come 2011.
    Why would Rep. Hunter want such a loophole? Well, cynics might say he wants the loophole so Vail and Vickers, Inc., which two decades ago sold the island to the federal government for $30 million and which now runs guided hunts on the island, could continue to provide that service.
    "This proposal seeks to continue indefinitely a hunting operation that is scheduled to wind down over the next several years and cease completely in 2011," Congresswoman Capps told Rep. Hunter in a letter sent yesterday. "This operation currently closes off public access to large parts of the island for several months a year while hunting is underway.
    "As you know, the termination of hunting operations is being done through a legally binding court-ordered settlement entered into by the Park Service, previous landowner (that would be Vail and Vickers), the Justice Department, and the National Parks Conservation Association," adds Rep. Capps. "It's my understanding that even Vail and Vickers is not seeking to extend the hunting operation. Neither is the Park Service nor the National Parks Conservation Association. Under your language, one of the principal goals of this settlement -- year-round public access to the island -- would not happen."
    Another flaw with Rep. Hunter's supposed desire to create a hunting preserve for the military is that your typical grunt would likely have a hard time affording a guided hunt on Santa Rosa Island, as Vail and Vickers charges between $5,000 and $16,500 for its guiding services.
    "While that is hardly within reach of your average soldier, sailor or airman, I would be hard-pressed to believe the Pentagon is going to start funding hunting trips for active or retired military," Rep. Capps pointed out in her letter.
    But you never know, not with the likes of Rep. Hunter, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, in Congress.

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