|14 Dec 2005 @ 19:06, by Letecia Layson|
This makes me so Angry!! Please take action now!
Congressman Ducan Hunter (R- El Cajon) is trying to sneak an amendment into the Defense Appropriations bill to give control of Santa Rosa Island (now part of the Channel Islands National Park) to the Department of Defense to use as a Military recreation facility. The public would no longer be able to use the island. This is not a request from the military; it is coming out of Hunter's office. We must stop this!
Please read the attached article from the LA times and the statement from Ron Sundergill, Pacific regional director, National Parks Conservation Association who explains the likely hidden reason for this bizarre transfer of public park land to the Defense Dept.
Get Mad then make the following calls:
Congressman Duncan Hunter (202) 225-5672 - tell his office that you oppose this backroom deal.
Congresswoman Capps(Santa Barbara) (202) 225-3601 - Tell her you support her efforts to stop this
Congressman Gallegley (Mountain communities/Santa Ynez) (202) 225-5811 - Tell him to get on the horn to fellow Republican Hunter and say "back off!"
Tell our senators to stop this amendment:
Senator Boxer (202) 224-3553
Senator Feinstein (202) 224 3841
Senator John Warner (R-Virginia) ( 202) 224-2023 - This is the guy Hunter is negotiating with in the Senate to get this amendment included. Tell him this is sleazy and sneaky and to put a stop to it.
This could happen this week! Thanks for you help. Forward to people you think will be concerned.
December 10, 2005 latimes.com
Military Wants Santa Rosa Island
By Tim Reiterman and Richard Simon, Times Staff Writers
WASHINGTON - A California congressman confirmed Friday that he wants to convert Santa Rosa Island in Channel Islands National Park into a Department of Defense installation for military recreation and special forces training - a move critics say would severely limit public access.
The proposal by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is being circulated as an amendment to a defense authorization bill that both houses of Congress began hashing out this week.
Hunter put forward a similar measure in May, but withdrew it after objections from environmentalists and Democrats and after consulting with Republicans.
In a statement e-mailed Friday night by his spokesman, Hunter said the proposed amendment "would broaden the recreational use of Santa Rosa Island to the benefit of wounded and disabled members of the armed services who have sacrificed for our country."
Through the spokesman, Hunter declined to discuss the amendment, citing ongoing negotiations with his Senate counterpart, John Warner (R-Va.). Warner's office did not return calls seeking comment.
Hunter's proposal calls for the Department of Defense to transform the 53,000-acre island into a military operation, effective Jan. 1, 2009. The goal, the proposal said, was to provide "morale, welfare and recreation activities to members of the armed forces and their dependents, veterans, official guests and such other persons as the [Defense] secretary determines to be appropriate, including paralyzed and disabled persons."
The island, according to the proposal, also could provide training areas for special operations forces and would continue to allow deer and elk hunting that is currently permitted.
Critics of the proposal said military personnel already can visit the park, just like the general public.
Rep. Lois Capps, a Democrat whose Santa Barbara district encompasses Santa Rosa Island, said the proposal is a bad idea "that is being pushed in secret negotiations."
"All Americans should have access to the Channel Islands National Park, not just top military brass, members of Congress and folks who can pay thousands of dollars to go on private hunting trips," Capps said.
Santa Rosa is the second-largest of the five Channel Islands that make up the park.
The proposal did not state that the island would be removed from the national park, but said the Defense Department would run the island.
Environmentalists adamantly oppose the proposal, saying it would deny the general public access to a significant portion of a park created two decades ago.
"The public would be completely frozen out," said Ron Sundergill, regional director of the National Parks Conservation Assn. "For all intents and purposes . it would no longer be a national park. It would be a military recreational compound."
A spokeswoman for the Department of Defense declined to comment, saying that it was premature to discuss any proposal that was not formally incorporated into the bill.
National Park Service spokeswoman Holly Bundock said the agency has heard about the proposal and is concerned that shifting control to the military would substantially cut public access to a scenic island with rare wildlife and plants, including the Santa Rosa Island manzanita, the Santa Rosa Island soft-leaved paintbrush and the Island fox.
"Santa Rosa is a public island," she said. "Taxpayers bought the island . and we operate it as a national park."
Beginning in the mid-1800s, Santa Rosa Island was a cattle ranch - and later sheep were introduced. When it was sold to Vail & Vickers Co. in 1902, the island was devoted exclusively to cattle raising.
The federal government purchased Santa Rosa Island for $30 million. In 1986, it became part of Channel Islands National Park along with four other islands in the chain - Santa Barbara, Anacapa, Santa Cruz and San Miguel.
Officials say the park had more than 500,000 visitors last year.
The public can visit by boat and there is an airstrip. Visitors can camp and hike the island, which is 15 miles long and 10 miles wide.
The former owners of the island are permitted to continue operating a deer and elk hunting concession on the island through 2011.
The congressional proposal would allow that operation to continue until then.
CA Republican Duncan Hunter's amendment would deny the public access to Santa Rosa Island within Channel Islands National Park, converting it to Military Uses
By: Ron Sundergill, Pacific Regional Director, National Parks Conservation Association
Published: Dec 10, 2005 at 09:12
Following is a press statement by Ron Sundergill, Pacific regional director, National Parks Conservation Association:
We have learned that Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is planning to propose an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill that would shift Santa Rosa Island, the second largest island within Channel Islands National Park, to an exclusive recreational outpost and game reserve for armed forces personnel and veterans, eliminating broader public access. In addition, the amendment would allow Special Operations Forces to use the island for military training.
The clearest indication of the intent of this amendment comes from reviewing a similar proposal Rep. Hunter made to a military spending bill earlier this year. He withdrew that highly controversial amendment after objections were raised, and after it became apparent that the Department of Defense had not even asked for it. The first version of his amendment was a bad idea and the new, dressed up version is no better.
We recommend that Rep. Hunter abandon this misguided amendment, which undoes a mediated settlement approved by a court of law in the fall of 1997 to protect threatened resources on the island.
This amendment is an attempt to grab a large portion of Channel Islands National Park and, in part, turn it into an exclusive commercial elk and deer hunting island compound for a small portion of Americans, and would result in a sweetheart deal for a well-connected family that has already sold their estate effective at the end of 2011 for $30 million. The proposal would turn administration of the second largest island within the park, Santa Rosa Island, over to the Secretary of Defense. Santa Rosa Island's land mass is 52,794 acres and it encompasses over 42 percent of the land mass within the National Park.
Islands National Park lands were set aside by our nation for the use and enjoyment by all Americans -- the young, the old, civilians, military personnel, veterans and nature lovers -- who go there to soak in the fresh air and marvel at its beauty. All Americans should continue to fully enjoy the wonders of this park.
Why would Representative Hunter, why would anybody for that matter, want to suddenly restrict a large portion of this beautiful place to a small portion of Americans? It makes no sense!
We can only guess that the reason this is being proposed is to protect the commercial interest that operates the elk and deer hunting venture on the island. The owners of the venture, whose family sold the island to the federal government in 1986 for nearly $30 million, will be required to end their commercial activities in 2011. The timeline for ending the elk and deer hunting results from a legally binding agreement between the National Park Service and the National Parks Conservation Association, but the owners of the hunting venture strongly objected to the agreement.
If Santa Rosa Island is turned over to the Department of Defense for military recreation and other purposes, the permit for the commercial hunting operation is then likely to be renewed. This is especially evident since the proposed amendment requires that the current contract with the commercial hunting operation be honored, and contains no restriction on the renewal of the contract.