To Be Offered NRA Directors;
Author's Home State Affiliate Wary
November 2, 2001
KeepAndBearArms.com -- After parleys marked by
abrupt schedule changes and executive sessions, a proposal described as a
"compromise" on the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) is ready
to be presented to the National Rifle Association's Board of Directors on
The measure already bears the endorsement of
NRA's Legislative Policy Committee, it has been reported, and may go to the
entire Board with a Hunting and Wildlife Committee endorsement or other comment
The terms of the compromise have not been
disclosed. Due to the posture of CARA in Congress, however, any
performance-for-promise arrangement would leave conditions placed on the Board's
endorsement fraught with peril. CARA supporters within the NRA hope for any
outcome that will permit the NRA's lobbying arm, the Institute
for Legislative Action (ILA), to continue its three-year, until-recently-quiet
support for the bill. The Board has the authority to control ILA's stance by
stating NRA policy.
From all indications, the NRA state affiliate
for the home state of CARA's author, Rep. Don Young, R-AK, may be aligned with
the New York and Arizona's NRA affiliates in opposition to CARA, even as Young
presses for its passage. Due to Alaska's low population, Young is the sole
Congressman from that state.
Outdoor Council (AOC) Executive Director Michael "Jesse"
Vanderzanden earlier this month acknowledged AOC had expressed serious
reservations about CARA in 1999 and then, when objections were not satisfied, opposed
Vanderzanden emphasized that AOC members have not
examined CARA, still H.R. 701, as it now stands, and does not at this time take
a position on it.
With regard to HR 701 itself, in a letter
dated Nov. 10, 1999, we expressed opposition to the bill after conducting an
exhaustive review and watching our recommended amendments fall short of being
included in the bill. Our primary concerns were the impacts to private
property owners, a dedicated (as opposed to discretionary) revenue stream
solely for the purposes of purchasing land, the public review and approval
process for purchasing lands, and the potential loss of hunting, fishing,
trapping, and outdoor pursuits on added federal lands. Please know that we do
not oppose conservation efforts aimed at the long-term perpetuation of fish
and wildlife, however, we believe it should be done in a scientific
needs-based manner that incorporates the public into the process at all
Property rights defenders, however, maintain
there is no significant difference between earlier versions and the current one.
Stewards of the Range attorney
Fred Kelly Grant, in his latest
CARA evaluation, termed the 2001 version "a CARA bill carrying the same
baggage as the last", and leveled these charges:
NewsMax.com reporter Wes Vernon in an August 20
story titled "Powerful
Lawmakers Try to Silence Property Owners" charged CARA advocates had
rigged House Resources Committee hearings to minimize testimony by property
During House Committee on Resources open
markup session on July 25, 2001, several amendments were offered which would
limit the condemnation authority as currently stated in the Bill.
Representative Thornberry introduced an amendment which would restrict use of
funds to acquire land through condemnation. The amendment failed by a vote of
21 to 16. Other private property protections offered by Representatives Pombo,
Otter, Walden, and Cubin were also defeated. The supporters champion their
"willing seller" claim, but reject an attempt to limit
condemnations. The message is clear!!
At the House Committee on Resources open
markup session on July 25, 2001, Representative Otter presented an amendment
which would preserve rights-of-way by restricting the termination of
rights-of-way through acquired lands. The amendment was defeated by a vote of
19-15. The "access message" to outdoorsmen should be clear!!
At the House Committee on Resources open
markup session held on July 25, 2001, Representative Pombo offered an
amendment which sought to grant 100 percent of the Land and Water Conservation
Fund money to the States without federal intervention. The amendment was
defeated 24-16. Supporters do not want to diminish the potential for federal
intervention, and expansion of federal power and authority. That message is
Members of Congress see the adverse impact on
adjoining property to be a real, not speculative, problem. On July 25, 2001,
Representative Pombo (R-Ca) offered an amendment entitled Protection of Rights
in Non-Federal Property From Federal Acquisition of Nearby Lands, designed to
assert the property rights of inholders and owners of lands adjoining federal
lands. The amendment failed by a vote of 22-17.
Members of Congress recognize this as a real,
not speculative, problem. Representative Otter (R-Id) offered an amendment on
July 25, 2001 which would protect rights of ways by restricting termination of
rights of way through lands acquired with use of CARA funds. The amendment
failed, but 15 members voted in favor of it.
At the House Committee on Resources open
markup session on July 25, 2001, Representative Walden (R-Or) offered an
amendment which would require approval by a State of federal acquisition of
land in a State where 50 percent or more of the lands are already owned by the
federal government. The amendment was not agreed to, with the vote 15 for and
15 against. The message is clear that it will be very difficult to get any
relief from the Congress for the economically strapped rural counties in the
Representative Barbara Cubin (R-Wy) offered
an amendment which would limit acquisitions of property by requiring no net
loss of private land. The amendment was rejected by voice vote. Again, the
message is clear that western rural counties can expect no relief from CARA's
Land Rights Association, the Paragon
Foundation, western land rights and lifestyles advocate columnist Diane
Alden and NRA Arizona affiliate Arizona
State Rifle and Pistol Association all continue to oppose the current
version of CARA on property rights grounds.
Performance for Promise?
Due to opposition on the part of some
Board members newly familiar with CARA, it was decided the bill, and ILA
support of it, would be debated at the autumn committee and Directors' meeting
in Washington. The parleys were originally scheduled for mid-September, but were
twice postponed due to the attack on America September 11.
Announced arrangements originally called for
CARA to be taken up in the NRA Hunting and Wildlife Committee Wednesday and
Thursday, and the Legislative Policy Committee, originally scheduled to meet on
Friday, then, most likely, to be presented to the entire Board meeting Saturday
Instead, the Legislative Policy and Hunting and
Wildlife Committees met together Thursday, heard presentations from Rep. Young
in favor and Senator Larry Craig, R-ID in opposition, constituted a
subcommittee, and referred the issue to that. Later, an observer said, a report
was made to at least the Legislative Policy Committee, which endorsed what was
described as a "compromise" to be presented to the full Board this
Two sources noted the absence of Rep. Barbara
Cubin, Board member, CARA opponent, and member of the Legislative Policy but not
the Hunting and Wildlife Committee.
One, a Director, reported being told "The
Senate version (of CARA) is, apparently, very different from the House
version." But a land rights organization lobbyist later said, "I know
all the CARA bills backward and forward, virtually every line . . . The two
Senate and one House bills are not very different, they are virtually the
CARA is currently represented by House version H.R.
701 as well as Senate Bills S.
1318 introduced by Senator Frank Murkowski, Rep. Young's fellow-statesman of
Alaska, and S.
1328, introduced by Sen Mary Landrieu, D-LA. CARA's foremost House
co-sponsor is Rep. Billy Tauzin, D-LA.
Both Senate bills were introduced the same day,
the day H.R. 701 was favorably reported in the House Resources Committee, August
2. Both were referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Murkowski and Landrieu are both members of that committee.
Wes Vernon at NewsMax.com has reported that
Republicans may, Young to the contrary notwithstanding, try
to keep CARA from coming to the House floor for a vote. It is controversial
among Republicans, and Democrats, all in favor, would enjoy seeing their
partisan adversaries squabble, Vernon explained. That could block one way by
which CARA could become law, by passage in the House and then in the Senate.
Should a Senate version pass, however, it would
be passed to the House for action, or, alternatively, the House might pass its
version. Either could result in reconciliation in a conference committee to
produce a version acceptable to both houses.
In CARA's current posture, in other words, it
is subject to negotiation, amendment, and possible compromise relative to
positions taken by lawmakers on other measures, concession-trading, in at least
one and possibly two committee sessions, as well as two -- probably four --
floor sessions in each house.
As a result, any decision by NRA's Board to
maintain NRA support of CARA, attaching conditions, would be highly vulnerable
to being honored as to the endorsement, the conditions being lost in the
legislative process, and compromise backers later telling Board members --
sincerely or otherwise -- "We tried our best, but that's the legislative
Following the September 11 attack, some
commentators opined CARA is dead for this year. Others, however, feared it might
be included in emergency legislation as a rider benefiting from the rush to
respond to the nation's new wartime situation.
What the Board meetings have made clear this
far -- if nothing else -- is that CARA's sponsors, battling for it in the
deliberations of one of its most influential hitherto-sponsor organizations,
consider it very much alive and maintain determination to pass it, somehow, in
this Congressional session.