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‘Alliance for Disabled Sportsmen Rights’

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  • ‘Alliance for Disabled Sportsmen Rights’

    posted with permission from Tom LaQuey, Program Director, Alliance for Disabled Sportsmen Rights

    'The Alliance for Disabled Sportsmen Rights'
    Issues- Remedies & Work in Progress
    January Report
    Written by Thomas H. LaQuey-Program Director

    In the past, the 'Alliance for Disabled Sportsmen Rights' was known as the 'Coalition for Disabled Hunter's rights' and we had one basic issue, getting the Crossbow, mouth tab, body brace and draw-loc devises approved in every state for disabled use in archery hunting seasons to better allow disabled sportsmen the opportunity to use the one tool best suited to their disability for hunting in archery seasons.
    This goal is still our top issue and will remain an issue we are working on until all states have a uniform policy for allowing these devises for this use and until disabled archers can get approved in one state and have the accommodation from one state work in another much like one hunters safety card from one state is good in all states today.
    The Alliance is presently going through a period of change in other directions and from this day forward I intend to do my best to give all of you a monthly update on where we stand on several issues we have undertaken within the last year, at the request of disabled sportsmen though out the United States. We found while working on the archery season issue we were asked to address many other issues disabled sportsmen face today and in working toward this larger goal, we are presently being incorporated as a non-profit corporation and will hold tax deductible status for donations in the near future.
    Presently it is still free to join with us in our efforts toward equal rights for disabled sportsmen and we encourage all of you to ask all of your friends and relatives to become involved with us in the many outdoor recreation access issues present today that require addressing. Working together, able-bodied and disabled sportsmen alike can make a difference and we need your help to get the best results.
    The following is a list of outdoor access issue we are addressing at the present time and their status to date.

    Issue 1. Archery season Crossbow issue and progress on federal discrimination complaint progress against the nine states withholding crossbow accommodations to disabled archers in their states.

    States discriminating against disabled crossbow use in archery season as they stand today are: Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Montana and West Virginia

    In December I Called Doug Gentile the point person handling our discrimination complaints with the US Department of Fish and Wildlife Service to follow up on what was happening with our discrimination complaints. Doug informed me we would need to be patient until February as the states in question were given until then to respond to the complaints. On January 29, 2004 I touched base with Doug again and told him we were expecting the answers to come soon so we could respond to them.

    The following statement was copied and pasted from an email Mr. Gentile sent me last week.

    The process is:

    After we get clarifying information from the complainant (including permission to use their name), we notify the State of the allegations and ask the State to respond to them, including any specific questions we may have.
    After we receive the response from the State in question, we will communicate that response back to the complainant. Sometimes the State gives us an inadequate response, and sometimes we have to back to the State for more information after the complainant comments on the response. If so, there may be additional exchanges of correspondence. But in normal cases, we will get the response from the State, transmit the State's position to the complainant, and then wait for the complainant to comment on the State's response.

    Once this process is completed, we will analyze the evidence. By "we" in the current crossbow cases, I mean the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department (Mike Trujillo, Melvin Fowler, etc.). We will draft a decision, and then forward it for legal review. In this case (the crossbow issue) we will also forward our recommended decision to the Department of Justice, who asked to be consulted.

    Once a decision is reached, we will notify the complainant and the State. If the decision is in favor of the State, we will close the case and give appeal rights to the complainant (U.S. District Court). If the decision is in favor of the complainant, we will issue a violations decision, and give the State a period of time to voluntarily comply. If they still don't comply after requests for voluntary resolution, the next step is enforcement actions, which may include scheduling the State for a hearing to determine possible cutoff of Federal funding (under review from the Attorney-General and Congress), or refer the case back to the Department of Justice with a recommendation that they sue the State in Federal Court for compliance.

    This is the same process that works for all public access civil rights complaints.

    As a practical matter, since we have many, many similar crossbow complaints, and have been dealing with this issue for a long time, we have already begun an internal analysis of the crossbow issue to see whether the named States are in violation of Federal disability rights laws. These discussions and analysis inside DOI are taking place, even as I go through the paperwork of processing these numerous complaints. Also, concurrent with the analysis of the issue internally, we are also pursuing all voluntary informal resolution efforts with the States, especially in Washington. Within a few weeks we will know whether or not Washington has finished amending their State procedures to allow crossbow usage for persons with severe disabilities.

    If I am a little slow getting back to the complainants after I receive the State responses, please forgive me. I have been swamped with complaints and other responsibilities (and I am the only person in the Fish and Wildlife Service doing public access civil rights full-time). But I will do the best I can to serve the customers
    and stakeholders, including you and your colleagues.

    I hope all this is hlpful. Look for the notification letter in the mail within a few days. Take care.

    Doug Gentile
    Civil Rights Coordinator for public access
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    You can see from the statement Doug needs to know who of our people did not receive copies of the responses the USDWS sent out to each state on your individual complaints. I need each of you who did not receive your copy of those letters sent to states to contact me at so I can have a count on the letters that did not arrive. This will not hold up the process, but you are entitled to copies of all letters sent out on your behalf by them on your complaint and once I have information on the letters that did not arrive, I will see to it that Doug sends all of you your copies.

    Issue 2. Washington State National Forest Service road closures that wheelchairs cannot pass barriers in wheelchairs. Chuck Frayer the Disabled Access Coordinator of the Northwest region of the United States Forest Service is looking at the situation and remedies he can begin moving on. I am expecting a call back from Chuck in about a week. (Chuck Frayer use to work in Washington DC for the Forest Service and was actually one of about four people that originally wrote the Americans with Disabilities Act. He himself has been in a wheelchair most of his life and I feel he is not only concerned, but also motivated to see the right outcome on this issue. He did tell me to expect the issue to take a considerable amount of time to come to resolution as nothing in government happens quickly, but progress is being made)

    Issue 3. Ohio disabled access problem fir two separate individuals on acreages set aside for disabled hunting are not accessible to disabled sportsmen in wheel chairs. I have had two talks with Phil King the ADA coordinator in Ohio regarding this issue in the last month and he is saying they are waiting for disabled access questionnaires to come back from disabled individuals regarding all of their access issues. In the mean time he told me to please send a letter to their Director, Steve Gray, to get information on all areas available for everyone to hunt in Ohio and they will send me a map concerning this and showing all trails available for access of wheelchairs on these properties. I am presently waiting for their answers to come back to me.

    In this issue I am very hopeful of a good outcome as Ohio does seem to be very progressive in addressing disabled issues in the outdoors and should be complimented on past issues.

    Issue 4. This issue concerns a blind sportsman from Pennsylvania being turned down to use a laser scope to shoot deer where he could have a spotter help him move the kill point around and tell him when to discharge his rife is under investigation by the alliance. Presently Pennsylvania is saying laser scopes are not allowed in their state, but we feel with enough contact and even field tests to prove the system will be the safest way for this individual to hunt will win the day for this accommodation so one more disabled sportsman will be able to enjoy a sport he use to be able to do regularly prior to his disability.

    Issue 5. A fifth issue brought up by a disabled a separate individual in Pennsylvania where he was told he could not use his fourwheeler to hunt from even though it is allowed him through accommodation by the Game and Fish there seems to have been more of a misunderstanding as it is looking right now that there are no laws preventing him from doing this in the Allegany National Forest and the Forest Service Official was possibly incorrect in telling him he could not hunt in this manner there. I am presently looking deeper into the matter to make sure he is legal in hunting from his fourwheeler in that national forest with the accommodation he has there to shoot from motor vehicles.

    You now know most of what I know regarding our different issues to date. If you know anyone who has had access problems of any type in outdoor recreation issues, please have them send an email to and have fun in the outdoors!!

    Happy Trails,

    Tom LaQuey
    T-10 complete
    "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO HOO' what a ride!"

  • #2
    Pat...thanks for posting this. I don't hunt anymore as I live in Calif. and it's damn near impossible to find a place to go unless you go for the private clubs and that's big bux!

    However, I do fish and think anything we can do to get DA people into the field for the recreation, nature appreciation, and thrill of the hunt (fishing is hunting too) is valuable therapy.


    "It's not easy being green"
    accept no substitutes