House bill would open beach access and protect old growth trees

The Conservation and Economic Growth Act, which passed the House Tuesday by a vote of 232-188, cuts federal red tape in ways that will create jobs and encourage tourism and recreation???while protecting the environment, say Republican supporters.

The act restores public and motorized access to 26 miles of North Carolina???s Cape Hatteras National Seashore, which Human Events reported earlier this spring was closed off because a bird listed as an endangered species was nesting in the area.

???This is about jobs and taxpayer rights to access recreation areas that they own,??? said Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.). ???It would reverse significant job losses and economic decline that Hatteras Island has experienced since the (National) Park Service cut off access to the most popular part of the seashore.??? He believes the state can and should do the job of overseeing its own beaches.

In addition to creating jobs in the conservation and natural resources industry, the bill protects endangered salmon from predatory California sea lions, the Chesapeake Bay, renews grazing permits and allows recreational shooting on public lands.

One provision supported by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) would allow the Sealaska Native Corporation to swap its old growth trees with the federal government, in exchange for second-growth timber on an existing road system in Alaska???s Tongass National Forest.

Young said the land swap would protect hundreds of timber jobs in rural and native communities where unemployment hovers at 25 percent, while allowing the government to protect the old growth stands. The bill also finalizes a settlement for 20,000 Alaska natives under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.