The House approved new standards for managing the nation’s wildlife refuges Wednesday, and critics, including the Clinton administration, immediately called them a threat to wildlife protection.
The bill passed by a 287-138 vote after moderate Republicans gained approval for an amendment they said would ease many of the concerns that had been raised by environmentalists.
But far from it. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt said the measure, even with the changes, would “open refuges to new or expanded recreational activities,” including commercial trapping, expanded hunting and fishing and water sports.
It now goes to the Senate, where it is likely to run into significant opposition.
Unlike national parks, the refuges, which cover some 92 million acres, traditionally have allowed hunting, fishing and recreational uses, and in some cases are also used for military training. But refuge managers are required to ensure such uses are not detrimental to wildlife protection.