NRA Backs Hunting on Champion Lands

02/05/02 12:00AM



(Host) The Vermont Senate will take up legislation again today that would affect the former Champion timber land in the Northeast Kingdom.

The National Rifle Association has now joined the debate. The gun-rights lobby warned over 10,000 members in Vermont that hunting could be banned from the state-owned portion of the property. But environmentalists and even some NRA members say the NRA has grossly distorted the issue in its letter.

Ben Alexander is an NRA member from Craftsbury:

(Alexander) "The letter says that at the whim of the environmental activists these activities could be curtailed. But that's just not true. And I don't think it's an accurate statement."

(Host) Greg Costa is the NRA lobbyist who wrote the letter. He says his organization does not believe hunters' rights will be fully protected on the land.

The NRA also urged its members to support legislation now in the House that would allow logging in the state-owned West Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

Pat Berry of the Vermont Natural Resources Council supports the ban on logging and questions why the NRA would get involved in the issue:

(Berry) "They've definitely stepped over the line from advocating for sportsmen like myself on behalf of timber interests."

(Host) NRA Lobbyist Costa says the organization supports the overall goals of the bill, but has taken no position on the logging section.
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