The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Luke Eshleman (202) 265-7337

National Parks Should Stick To Their Guns On Lead Ammo Ban

Diverse Coalition Urges Secretary Salazar to Meet Goal of Going Lead-Free by 2010


A coalition of parks, wildlife and wilderness groups
today urged Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to stand behind the goal of the
National Park Service ban lead-based ammunition and fishing tackle by 2010,
according to a letter released today by Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER), one of the signatories. The Park Service is under
pressure from the National Rifle Association and allied groups to drop plans
for eliminating lead ammunition from the park system.

Hunting is currently permitted within 60 national preserves, recreation areas
and other National Park Service (NPS) units. Fishing in widely allowed throughout
the national park system.

On March 4, 2009, Acting Director Daniel Wenk sent out an internal directive
that the agency would outlaw the use of lead in firearms, fishing and hunting
by "December 31, 2010 or sooner" but adverse reaction from gun
groups has left some question about whether NPS will stick with its announced

The Park Service has already begun to phase out lead ammunition from its own
operations, such as wildlife culls. The controversy is about prohibiting members
of the public from using lead shot or bullets in park units.

The basis for a ban is poisoning of wildlife from ingestion of spent lead
shot, bullets or sinkers. In addition, dissolved lead can contaminate groundwater.
In the U.S., lead shot is already banned nationwide in waterfowl hunting while
several countries, including Canada, have total lead ammunition bans.

In the coalition letter sent today, the groups state:

"We applaud the leadership demonstrated by this effort. More importantly,
it exhibits a commitment to the overarching mandate imposed upon you by
the Organic Act of 1916 to conserve parks unimpaired, so that they are enjoyed
by present and future generations. The NPS is obligated to manage every
lawful activity within our nation's parks in such a way as to serve that
fundamental purpose. We strongly support this effort to achieve a lead-free
national park system by the end of 2010."

Signatory organizations include Coalition of National Park Service Retirees,
the Humane Society of the United States, Wildlife Stewards, the Arizona Zoological
Society, Desert Protective Council, Wilderness Watch and Delaware Audubon.

"The National Park Service should know that there is a lot of support
and appreciation for its lead-free stance," stated PEER Executive Director
Jeff Ruch, whose group organized the letter. "This lead ban is one of
the most important conservation initiatives to come out of the Park Service
in the past decade."


Read the coalition letter to Secretary Salazar

Look at the NPS lead-free announcement and the reaction

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. PEER's environmental work is solely directed by the needs of its members. As a consequence, we have the distinct honor of serving resource professionals who daily cast profiles in courage in cubicles across the country.