September 1, 2012

Rumor of Efforts to Ban Hunting on Mojave Preserve Greatly Exaggerated

By Jim Matthews

There was a wildfire of e-mails shooting around the hunting community this week over a supposed effort by the National Park Service to change the name of the Mojave National Preserve to “National Park” as a backdoor way to ban hunting.

David Moore, on the planning staff at the Mojave National Preserve, was shocked to hear that news, but after having the scenario pieced together for him, he wasn’t surprised to see how hunters came to that conclusion. But he was emphatic: “It’s not about banning hunting. There isn’t any intention to ban hunting on the preserve or change its name,” said Moore.

The confusion came because all units of the National Park Service have been directed to put together a “Foundation” document that lists all of the important features – biological, geological, archeological, everthing – that makes the unit important and define why the area was and continues to be worthy of inclusion into the National Park system as a way to help future managers of the unit understand the area and make planning decisions that protect and enhance the core features.

A brief draft of this Foundation document for the Mojave Preserve was recently posted on the agency web site along with a request for comments. Unfortunately, it was not clear what the document was about and its purpose.

This statement in the draft panicked hunters:

“Significance statements are directly linked to the purpose of Mojave National Preserve and express why the preserve’s resources and values are important enough to warrant national park designation.”

Hunters have been a little gun-shy after the first superintendent of the Preserve did everything she could to get rid of hunting and hunters. So it sounded like this document was being written to change the status of the Preserve to a Park, very quietly banning hunting.

This was even reinforced by an unfortunately circumstance on the Preserve’s website. On the bottom of each page of the website there is a little factoid, a brief “did you know” about the preserve or national parks. On the page about the Foundation document, it read:

“Park or preserve? Like other parks with the designation of "national preserve," Mojave National Preserve is managed under the same guidelines as national parks. The main difference is that hunting is allowed in national preserves, but not in national parks.”

That juxtaposition was not intentional, according to Moore, and he suddenly realized why hunters were panicked.

But he said this confusion and further reading of the Foundation draft made him realize that the importance of hunting on the Preserve wasn’t even mentioned in the document. He asked that a few hunters and hunting groups look at the document and then send him e-mails or letters expressing how important hunting and hunted wildlife is both historically and today, and why it’s one of the key reasons the preserve was created and should remain a preserve. You can e-mail Moore at, or write him at David Moore, Mojave National Preserve, 2701 Barstow Road, Barstow, CA 92311.

It’s refreshing to have a staff on the Preserve that is working with hunters instead of working against us.