Associated Press WASHINGTON - Taking aim at the Clinton administration's public lands policy, the House voted Tuesday to allow hunting to resume on 410,000 acres in Idaho that the former president added to a national monument last fall.
On a voice vote, the House passed legislation that would reclassify as a national preserve nearly two-thirds of the 661,000 acres that Clinton added to the Craters of the Moon National Monument on Nov. 8.
The rocky terrain's inhospitable lava flows near Arco, Idaho, is a favorite area for hunters stalking mule deer and coyotes. As a preserve, hunters could still use it; as a monument they cannot.
This "is about fairness and ensuring the Idahoans are not locked out of traditional hunting areas," said the bill's author, Rep. Michael Simpson, R-Idaho.
Until last November, the Craters of the Moon monument created in 1924 by President Coolidge covered only 54,440 acres. About 251,000 acres would remain part of the expanded monument under the legislation.
"Other than hunting, the preserve will be managed exactly the same as the original Craters of the Moon National Monument," said House Delegate Robert Underwood, D-Guam.
Environmentalists said they fear the bill is an opening shot at scaling back more than 3 million acres, most of it in the West, that Clinton put under protection during his last two years in office.
"These national treasures should be protected from all destructive activities including mining, grazing and oil and gas drilling," said Tiernan Sittenfeld of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
In late March, Interior Secretary Gale Norton sent letters asking state officials to suggest boundary and other changes to 19 newly designated or expanded monuments.