Friday, October 11, 2013

Shutdown has millions of hunters, fishermen upset; states finding ways around closures

Fall is the big hunting season, and it's also a popular time to fish, and more than half of the 35 million Americans who hunt or fish have done so on the 609 million acres of federal land located mostly in the West, spending about $38.3 billion on travel and supplies, according to data from 2011 from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Elaine Povich reports for Stateline. But the government shutdown has closed national parks, leaving people searching for a way to continue their favorite past times without illegally crossing barriers.

Some states have been finding creative ways to get around the shutdown and appease hunters and fishermen, Povich writes. Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin had federal barriers removed at boat launch access to the Mississippi, saying the state funds 18 percent of access to the river, giving them a say in how it's used. Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, another Republican, is demanding that access to the 225 million acres of federal land that make up 60 percent of his state be open for hunters, fishermen and recreational users. He cites federal laws, including the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, that say federal lands and waters are to be open and accessible without fees or permits. (Read more)

"Under pressure from governors, the Obama administration said Thursday it will allow some shuttered national parks to reopen — as long as states use their own money to pay for park operations," Matthew Daly reports for The Associated Press. Governors in Utah, Arizona, South Dakota, and Colorado have asked for permission to re-open their parks. Wyoming Republican Gov. Matt Mead has said his office won't use state money to re-open parks. A spokesperson told the AP, "Wyoming cannot bail out the federal government and we cannot use state money to do the work of the federal government." (Read more)

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