Hunters Included in Alaska Land Decisions
After years of battling by groups like Safari Club International, a judge in Alaska has agreed that representatives from the hunting community must be allowed to participate in decisions concerning the use of the state's federal land for subsistence purposes.
A judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska rejected attempts by native Alaskan groups to exclude recreational hunters from the committees advising the federal government on whether, and how, to provide subsistence hunting priorities on federal land.
"SCI has been fighting for eight years in Alaska to make sure that sportsmen and women have proper access to valuable hunting opportunities on federal lands," said SCI President Ralph Cunningham. "We are pleased to see that the court has once again endorsed the role of recreational hunters in the decisions that allocate Alaska's valuable wildlife resources."
The Court also acknowledged the federal government’s idea to provide balance to these committees by setting aside 30 percent of the committee seats for recreational and commercial users.
"SCI's efforts have brought significant change to the way that subsistence priorities are allocated in Alaska," said Cunningham. "Once again, SCI has been responsible for a court ruling that recognizes the valuable and essential role of the recreational hunter in decisions that provide access to hunting opportunities."
The judge, however, was not satisfied with the procedural errors in the rulemaking process and took issue with the government’s inadequate explanation of its reasons for the balancing plan.
The Court had initially decided to invalidate the membership balancing plan entirely, but SCI succeeded in persuading the Court to reconsider.
In response to the motions by SCI and the government, the Court agreed to allow the balancing rule to remain in effect for the remainder of this year and directed the government to promptly correct the procedural errors.