In 1980, a federal law was passed that guaranteed hunters in Alaska would always have access to government lands for hunting purposes. Yet in another blatant violation of law, the federal government is still going out of their way to hurt the American people because of the shutdown stalemate.
In 1980, the Democratic controlled Congress passed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act and it was signed into law by outgoing President Jimmy Carter. The main objective of the measure was to protect as much of Alaska’s wilderness as possible. The act added 53,720,000 acres to the National Wildlife Refuge System, 43,585,000 acres to the National Park System, 56,400,000 acres to the Wilderness Preservation System and 3,350,000 acres to the Tongass and Chugach National Forests. With so much land being taken over by the federal government, one of the provisions of the act was that Alaska residents be guaranteed access to the federal lands for hunting and fishing purposes. Any closures of land could only be done after proper and timely notifications were sent out statewide.
Now, accusations have arisen in the state claiming that the US Fish and Wildlife Service shut down their federal land in the state to hunting. Park Service and Bureau of Land Management lands have remained open to hunters. The USF&W land closure was not preceded by the proper notification as required by the federal law.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is questioning the ethics of the Obama administration’s handling of the partial government shutdown, saying:
“It seems that agencies are working harder to keep people off federal lands than they have ever worked before to get them to visit federal lands.”
Considering how the Park Service and other federal employees are still being paid to keep charter boats from fishing in Florida Bay and surrounding ocean, or people accessing a privately owned hotel or motorists from using a simple out to look at Mt. Rushmore, Murkowski is right. Visitors at Yellowstone National Park were virtually confined to the lodge and not allowed to walk around outside. When a tour bus stopped along the road in the park to allow visitors to take photos of some buffalo, park rangers pull up and told them they could be arrested for trespassing for getting off the bus. One visitor said that park rangers were using almost Gestapo-like tactics and told them to return to their hotel and stay there.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is wondering why the Obama administration has rejected their offer to use state and private funds to keep the Grand Canyon open. In past government shutdowns, Arizona worked out agreements with the feds to allow them to pay to keep the parks open, but this time, Obama won’t even accept the offer. Instead, he purposely wants to make this as nasty and ugly as possible.
What’s hilariously hypocritical is the response from Sen. Ron Wyden, (D-OR), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He said he will hold a hearing on the decisions being made by the Obama administration, but then stated that shutdowns are messy and people will get angry. Then, addressing Republicans, he blurted out the following:
“To me the lesson in all of this is, one, it’s urgent in terms of getting the government open again, two, we need to work together to fund the government.”
Hello? The Republicans have been repeatedly passing one piece of legislation after another to get as much of the government open and running as possible. They have been compromising and trying to negotiate with the Democrats but President Obama and Sen. Harry Reid have made it clear that they will not negotiate or compromise on any aspect of the spending bill. It is their way or no way. Wyden’s comment is stupid and shows the blind stubbornness of the Democratic party that has led to the government shutdown and continues to keep it shut down. It also shows how little they care about the American people whom they are going out of their way to hurt as much as possible.