State Commission Challenges Park Service Hearings

A state commission is taking issue with the number of public hearings scheduled by the National Park Service on proposed regulations that would block some state sport hunts for bears, wolves and coyotes in several national preserves.

Citizen’s Advisory Commission on Federal Areas executive Director Stan Leaphart says single-site hearings like the one scheduled for Wednesday night at Denali’s Murie Science Center, don’t provide adequate opportunity for public input in effected rural communities.

Leaphart says the public hearing access situation is similar for hunters who live outside other effected preserves, including Yukon Charley, Gates of the Arctic, Wrangle St. Elias, Lake Clark and three in western Alaska.

The park service has proposed continued or new bans on state game board approved hunts, including bear baiting in the preserves.

Leaphart voiced his concern about the hearings and the broader issue of the park service overriding state hunting regulations, in a letter to National Park Services Regional Supervisor.

Park service spokesman John Quinley says the public has plenty of opportunity to weigh in on the proposals.

Quinley says input from public hearings will be used to draft specific language banning the state hunts on preserve lands that will be included in the compendium which is scheduled to be released in mid January.

Leaphart says it would be better if public hearings were also held after the actual regulation language comes out.

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