Final East Mojave Plan hurts hunters

spectr17

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EAST MOJAVE PRESERVE PLAN -- jim matthews column 20june01


East Mojave Preserve’s plan is prejudicial again hunters; restrictions excessive, biased


    The National Park Service has issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement and General Management Plan for the East Mojave National Preserve. Two weeks ago, I wrote about how the NPS was removing historic water sources from the preserve without doing a careful analysis of their impacts on wildlife even before the management plan was final. This week the final plan proves the park staff’s bias against hunting and hunters in its rules and language.

    Let me just illustrate this with three points.
    Overall Bias Against Hunting/Hunters: Under the plan, the preserve will be closed to hunting from the end of January through August each year so “non-hunting visitors would experience fewer disruptions and greater safety with the restrictions on the seasons, species, and areas where hunting would be allowed.” That is a direct quote from the plan.

    Am I being too sensitive here or does it seem like hunters are somehow viewed as lessor visitors who’s activities are somehow less important than non-hunters or deserve less consideration than non-hunters? If you were to substitute “black” or “Hispanic” in that sentence (“so non-black visitors....”), as a means of catering to racists who use the preserve and you begin to understand my disgust with the document’s language.

    Hunters and hunting are clearly being discriminated against in the plan. The rationale for the move, according to the final document, is because the park service “also has obligations to listen to the non-hunting community and has received many letters advocating complete elimination of hunting. The proposal is our best attempt to provide opportunities for all visitors to Mojave.”

    Excuse me, but there is nothing in the plan that says non-hunters can’t use the park during hunting season so they don’t disrupt hunters, which is far more likely to happen than the other scenario. Yet, hunters are restricted because some people don’t like a legal activity. Would the park service also accept racist pleas to keep out any ethnic group for part of the year because the NPS staff believes in the First Amendment that protects free speech -- even for racists -- and would incorporate their wishes?

    The legislation that created the preserve specifically called for hunting to be allowed and “regulations closing areas to hunting... shall be put into effect only after consultation with the appropriate state agency....” Yet, the NPS is proposing closing the whole area to all hunting for small game (cottontail rabbits and jackrabbits) and predators (coyotes, bobcat and foxes), effectively shutting it down for half the year, without consulting with the California Department of Fish and Game.

    No Small Game or Predator Hunting: Without any biological justification, the preserve staff has somehow ordained that hunting for upland birds and big game is acceptable, but that small game and predators should not be hunted. How did they pull this rabbit out of the hat? Well, it fit in with their desire to rid their preserve of hunters half the year, to give in to the racist’s -- I mean anti-hunter’s -- demands. The statewide season on jackrabbits is all year, coyotes can be hunted all year, and cottontail rabbit season opens July 1. If they allowed hunting for these species, they couldn’t very well close the preserve to hunters half the year.

    The ironic part of this is that desert tortoises were also used as a scapegoat for closing the preserve to hunting half the year, as though there were some connection to declines in tortoises and hunting (there isn’t). In fact, by stopping varmint hunting, the NPS staff is likely to increase mortality on tortoises through greater predation on young tortoises. They even admit that. They’re worried about hunters shooting tortoises, but it’s OK for coyotes to eat more. It’s OK for cars to run over more as we improve facilities and get more visitors. It’s prejudicial and it just doesn’t make sense.

    Excessive Hunting Closures: Lastly, under the guise of public safety, the National Park Service staff further proves its bias against hunting and shooting. The one-mile rifle hunting closure around seven main areas in the preserve is totally bogus. There is no precedent anywhere in the state or nation for this size of firearms closure for public safety. The standard law to protect public safety is 150 yards from a road and 1/4-mile from an occupied dwelling. People who understand hunting and firearms use, know this is more than a completely safe margin.

    Yet, when this was pointed out the NPS staff in comments on the draft plan, they blew off the suggestion that all law enforcement agencies across the state and nation knew better how to set safety standards. Why? Because “of the well know fact that bullets fired from rifles may travel as much as one mile.”

    I thought it was well known that bullets from a big game rifle might travel three or four miles, not just one mile. But apparently the NPS staff didn’t know this or their public safety zone distances might have been increased.

    Using the NPS staff’s logic, it would be wise to close all roads within a mile of any tortoise habitat because a tortoise could wander out onto a road and get run over. To protect children from being run over in campgrounds, all vehicles should have to be parked, say, a mile away and everyone walk in. Kids probably wouldn’t wander a mile away from camp and get run over that way. It would be safe.

    I agree that it is the staff’s “responsibility to ensure.... safety,” but how they decide they know more firearms and hunter safety than agencies that deal with the issue daily is beyond me -- unless they have a bias against hunting and hunters.

    By and large, the document is a good one, but it has a prejudice against hunters and hunting -- and even hunted wildlife -- that goes beyond the bounds of rational judgment. This bias jumps out at any hunter who reads the plan.

    The biggest disappoint of all, for me, is that at least a couple of the people on the staff that created this document are hunters and shooters who know how this document is fundamentally wrong and wrong-headed as it relates to hunters and hunting. These people shirked from their responsibility to stand up for what is right. This total lack of integrity is shameful -- as shameful as this document is flawed.
 

Fubar

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Jim Mathews says hunters are being discriminated against. This is true. The minorities are not like hunters. The minorities would sound off to the proposed discrimination. They would stand up for themselves. Hunters on the other hand will probably let it slide. A lot of hunters say "I dont hunt there." When it your area other hunters will say" I dont hunt there." Too bad.                Fubar

(Edited by Fubar at 10:25 pm on June 20, 2001)
 

Hogskin

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Excellent point, Fubar.  If the hunters were as vigilant as the anti's are, we'd not have many worries.  But since many of us sit around and do nothing, we're easy prey.

Regards,
Paul
 

Marty

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I have had a talk with more than one hunter who has given up on California.  That's right.  Given up.  Since when do 'we' collectively roll over and give up the fight to hunt on public lands; California or otherwise?
Isn't this State still part of the United States?
 

hronk

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To be perfectly honest, I have no facts to base this on, but not trusting our enviromentalists, I am worried.  I would hope you will comment on this Speck, because I respect your opinions, even though we haven't been doing much agreeing lately.  I have a fear that if we designate the Eastern Sierra areas that we have discussed before as Wilderness, we will face the same fate as the desert is now.  They get their foot in the door and hunters will be history in the future.  
A lot of Hunters/ Outdoor people, were for the Mohave deal and look whats happening.  I would much rather see a few vehicles in the areas that I hunt than have no place to hunt in the future.......hronk
 

hronk

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WOW...I thought that Speckmisser would jump all over this one....hronk
 

Speckmisser

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Hronk,

I've sat on it because I didn't really have much to add here, plus, I don't think Mr. Matthews did himself justice as a columnist on this one. The whole bit comparing this "discrimination" against hunters with racial discrimination is, in my honest opinion, ridiculous.  It's calculated to stir some deep emotions, which is a common tactic when you have to base your argument on emotional pretense rather than factual data.  

The folks at NPS are trying to strike a balance, and not doing a great job at it.  But that's their charge.  They may be throwing out the baby with the bathwater, as government agencies usually do, but they're trying to make everybody happy..and as a result probably haven't seen so much as a smile for the effort.  

I don't think you have the enviromentalists to blame for this one.  Anti-hunters, maybe.  Non-hunters, definitely.  But seems to me that enviros and hunters were both fairly supportive of this plan initially.  

I don't know a lot about the East Mojave.  How big of an impact will this January through August closure really have on hunters?  That's another question about this whole thing that's kind of bugging me.  

Wish I had some good points for debate on this one, but the column posted here doesn't give much fodder for intelligent debate, once you sift out the foolishness about racism and discrimination.
 

Fubar

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Spec  All I know is they ripped out all the water sources where I used to hunt Chukar and now it is ruined. Other States are planting and trying to establish Chukar and California is trying to get rid of them and hunters too. I also dont like the "here is your wilderness, enjoy it, just dont go out there."            Fubar
 

Speckmisser

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Fubar,

I gotta say, I'm still not sure I understand why they ripped out the water sources.  Sounds like they'd have left them if the previous owners would have paid for maintenance.  It's been a little while since I read that first article about removing the water sources, though, so I could have it foggy.  

Some of this seems extremely political, and I wonder who's fighting up in the "lofty domain" of the Parks offices.  But pulling the water sources out, after critters have already established a system around them seems extremely stupid and pointless to me.  I can't imagine the enviros or anyone else would be supportive of that kind of move.

(Edited by Speckmisser at 9:57 am on June 26, 2001)
 

Marty

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Man Speck, sure are laying it on thick there.  

The apathy of many hunters and the aggressive work of the 'green' coalition cleared the path for this plan.  And don't think that the NPS was trying to strike a balance.  They, like all agencies these days, were trying to avoid a lawsuit by the enviro's instead of standing up for ecological programs.  :(

The water sources are to be removed because they were erected by man.  That is an enviro agenda.  The NPS should have petitioned for the equipment to remain with volunteer support; much like the BLM and NFS land maintenance is conducted now.  

Enviro's have the Agencies in their palm.  Unfortunately, the only way to regain access for hunting or off-highway exploration of these public lands is to file a counter-suit.  This may be the last resort.  Unfortunately for us, it is not the best because it takes more money from the agencies and the precedence has been set; access is lost.
 

Speckmisser

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Marty,

No argument at all with your last paragraph.  Comes back to what a lot of you are already saying... hunters aren't doing anything to protect their sport.  But now you got me started , I think I WILL lay it on thick.  :eek:

Enviro's alone do NOT control the politicians nearly as much as the public acceptance of the environmentalist agenda.  That's where hunters are missing out.  You can rail and piss and moan about the enviros all you want, and it's going to get you no closer to an acceptable solution than you already are.  And shouting out to other hunters isn't going to help a whole lot either.  

There are two things that are going to absolutely have to happen if hunters are going to continue to have places to hunt.  First of all, there needs to be coordinated work with environmental groups, rather than this schism that exists now.  And yes, I'm saying, "You can't beat them..join them."
 
Does this mean simply send the environmental groups your money and figure you've done your part?  "I joined the Sierra club, so now I'm an environmentalist!"  

After all, isn't this how most hunters figure they're being active... send a few bucks to DU and CWA and then declare, "I support our hunting traditions!"  

Of course that's not going to help.  You send in your money, that's great.  The organizations will take it and use it to support whatever programs they want to use it for, thank you very much.  And you'll continue to have no say in what is being done.

Sure it helps a little... but that's not where the battles need to be fought.  What I'm saying is hunters need to get inside the environmental organizations, become ACTIVE members and start to drive some of the agenda.  For that matter, it wouldn't hurt more hunters to get actively involved inside their own hunting organizations as well.

It's easy to do, if you're willing to work at it.  Most organizations are controlled by a vocal minority.  A few folks supportive of hunting, and prepared with organized, sustainable plans that provide benefits to hunters as well as the environment can make a world of difference in the environmental agenda.

You're not going to make drastic changes, such as opening up national parks to unlimited hunting and ATV access.  But you can make sure that when these organizations take a plan before the politicians, the plan takes hunters' needs and desires into consideration.  This is simply not happening enough right now.

Being on the inside of these environmental groups will have another effect as well.  It will help provide some understanding of the rationale that drives many of the environmentalist causes.  The majority of true environmental activists have a pretty good understanding of ecology and natural science.  There are a fair number of extremists, of course, and some with an unrealistic perspective.  There are the anti-hunters and the anti-humanists.  And that is the reason that pro-hunters need to be there too.  We need to be there to help keep the true "fringe" groups out there in the fringes.  

The second thing that hunters need to do is simple, old-fashioned PR.  In a current national survey, about three quarters of the respondents supported the idea of recreational hunting, even though they didn't participate in it themselves.  My interpretation of that response is that those people don't really care, one way or another.  Those people can be our biggest boon, or our biggest downfall...depending on how hunters choose to use them.  If you give those people a reason to think hunters are wrecking the environment, that approval rating will drop pretty fast... and vice versa.  

The environmental organizations are pretty much the fulcrum in a "battle" for hunting rights.  Their main agenda is to preserve the environment... to keep viable ecosystems from being thrashed, and potentially to restore some systems which have already been overrun.  

You'd be blind, as a hunter, not to see that their agenda fits ours to a tee!  We need those viable ecosystems too!  If we allow development and abuse, the game we pursue is going to go right down the drain.  If we allow the destruction of habitat, then where will we hunt?  

The problem is this traditional distrust and even confrontation between hunters and environmentalists.  For some reason, enviros have been long equated with anti-hunters, and this is simply not a true paradigm.  But since hunters distrust the enviros, they will generally not work together.  This opposition is seen by the public as an anti-environmental stance by hunters.  

The reason the environmental movement has so much support is quite simple.  Everybody wants their children, and their children's children to have green grass and blue skies.  That's the promise of the environmental movement.  

On the other hand, the only thing pro-hunters represent to the general public is that we want to kill animals.  This does not represent their goals at all.  Non-hunters do not understand hunting, either the practice or the mentality.  Nor do they want to.  

Now when the public sees hunters railing against the environmentalists, what do you think they infer?  "Oh, these selfish hunters just want more animals to kill!  They don't care about blue skies and green grass.  They don't care about my children's future!"  

Now the politicians look at this picture.  What do you think they see?  Where's the big voting block?  Who do you think is going to have influence?  Not the environmentalists themselves, because the true activists are still a tiny minority.  Likewise, the hunters are only a small fraction of the voter pool.  No, the politicos are going to be gunning for that "general public" block, and anything that makes them look good to the general public will become part of their platform.  So if the promise of "blue skies and green grass" gets those voters, then that's where the politicos are going to put their support.  

At this point, even truth and science become unimportant.  Hence, you saw the closure of your CA mountain lion seasons.  At this point, it's too late to salvage what hunters have lost.  The politicos are dancing to the enviros' drum, and the small handful of vocal activists driving the environmental organizations are calling the tune.  Hunters are relegated to the fringe.

That's the picture as I see it, and that will not change unless hunters become more willing to work with and within the environmentalist's efforts.  That's going to mean some compromise.  It will mean some sacrifice, and that some hunters may find themselves left out in the cold.  

But it will also mean the opportunity to be seen as part of the voice of reason, supportive of blue skies and green grass, as well as of the animals that thrive on them.  

So then, you're welcome to continue to debate with me.  I enjoy the academic exercise (plus, it allows me to defer my work).  Or you can be part of a movement that will preserve hunting traditions in a very real way.  You can preach to the choir, or you can go out and work "miracles" of your own.

Bottom line is, the environmental movement is not going away.  We need a healthy environment simply to live.  With the exception of tiny enclaves of subsistence hunters, we do not need hunting at all. Even if hunters choose to stand united, we still only represent a tiny fraction of the populace, and we will stand alone.  On the other hand, if we can join our forces with the environmentalists to work for mutually satisfying goals, we will have the strength and public support necessary to keep the sport alive.  

And if we choose to stand alone, then there is no one but ourselves to blame when our interests are trmpled into the mud.  
 

Marty

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I agree that ALL hunters need to be active in an environmental agenda.  I do not agree that they have to join any one of the  'environmental' groups that currently exist to support the cause.  An insurgence of hunters into the enviro ranks will not make the group pro-hunting.  Boards such as this help communicate to other hunters the need and means to protect the environment and their sport.  An agenda that should be supported by the DFG and FS.  

The other issue is that the NPS threw out/scrapped a working environmental agenda, managed by the BLM, without credit.  All in favor of the green movement.  

I'm not expecting a debate from you, Speck.  You've explained yourself.  I want to hear from others as to what efforts they've taken to protect their hunting rights.  If not, why?  

How many people reviewed the Mojave plan and commented before it was implemented?  

Is it a north/south issue?  Desert v. forest?  Fishing v. hunting? What?

As I've said before, I have spoken with a few who have given up on California for hunting.  Is that how the rest feel?  
 

spectr17

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I guess I'm a sucker. I wrote my congressman Jerry Lewis, state rep Jim Leonard and even Fienstein and Boxer and let them know that I used the Mojave for hunting and off roading and that we should maintain the water sources there that are vital to the animals.

Since us hunters were told we would be given a fair shake on the access and priveliges in the Mojave I supported the 1st drafts of the plan. But it wasn't long before the language of the plan began to make me wonder if we had been sold out as the plan was revised.

Why does a hiker have more access than me as a hunter? Why do they plan on building more roads and buildings and in the same breath say the water windmills have to be torn down since they are not natural and man made. HUH? Some of the justification the NPS uses to support their decisions is just plain ridiculous.

Did Jim Matthews use too strong a word such as discrimination? Well, just what would you call it if birdwatchers can do their thing all year and the hunters have to check the calender to see if it's okay to venture out.

I thought a little bending would help to keep the water and greenies happy but their agenda is all too apparent. A  total ban on hunting was too big a bite so they nibbled a bit here and a little there. Next year we'll have anotehr closure for whatever reason the NPS can dream up and none of their employees will dare to expose the fraud.

Visit the Mojave now if you've ever wanted to hunt bobcats or yotes there, it soon will be just a memory.

 

Fubar

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I agree Spectr, I think we need some new blood in CA politics. Doesnt seem to matter to the current people in office how we feel. I hope we can elect some new representatives. I am tired of Boxer and Frankenstein. Please let the new Governor be a Republican. I dont care if it is Arnold.           Fubar
 

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