WASHINGTON — The Bush administration said this week that it formally supports the first of what could be many bills encouraged by Rep. Jim Hansen to rework national monuments created or expanded by former President Bill Clinton.
It endorsed a bill by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, to allow hunting in areas that Clinton added last year to Craters of the Moon National Monument. He expanded it from 53,440 acres to a massive 716,727 acres and banned hunting in much of it.
Hansen, R-Utah, chairman of the House Resources Committee, recently asked House members whose districts contain the 21 monuments that Clinton created or expanded to propose any changes recommend by local residents, who Hansen says were not consulted by Clinton.
While such changes could include shrinking or even erasing boundaries, the first bill to move simply seeks to restore hunting in areas in Idaho.
Joseph E. Doddridge, acting assistant Interior secretary, told a House Resources subcommittee this week that the administration supports that as long as it does not also allow hunting within the smaller, original monument area.
That prompted effusive praise by Hansen.
He said, "Today, the Bush administration has made clear its sensitivity for the people of Idaho and its support of our grass-roots review of the Clinton monuments.
"For the first time in eight years, the people of the West feel like they have a listening ear in the White House. After the bruising treatment of recent years, that's a wonderful feeling."