Monday, September 6, 2010

Hunting in Parks: Experiments in Land Use

Canada is establishing a new park in the Mealy Mountains in Labrador. The big deal is that they're allowing locals (mostly indigenous folks) to continue hunting on the land, as they have for millennia. Understandably, this proposal is not without controversy.

My take on this: it's actually not that radical of an experiment. In the U.S., we have national forests, which can be used not just for traditional park-type recreation but for hunting and lumber. Canada has parks, but no equivalent to national forests. (In fact I just had this conversation with a Parks Canada worker in Alberta last week.) So what Canada is really doing is replicating an experiment that has gone well in the U.S. The main reason people anywhere resist new parks' being established is that they're concerned that large tracts of land are being made unavailable for hunting or forestry. That's completely reasonable, especially if the people in question actually rely for nutrition on hunting and trapping. If managed, these activities can be made low-impact, and you can get the support of locals, which makes it much, much easier to preserve natural open space.

Even though we already have national forests, the interests that established them have since drifted apart. So think about this for a second: if the NRA and the Sierra Club lined up together to preserve the great outdoors, no one would stand a chance against them.

No comments: