Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Encourages State Public Land to Remain Open

Last week, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) sent a letter to the more than 2,000 state legislators who are members of the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucus (NASC), encouraging them to help maintain the openness of public land in their respective states during this time of uncertainty as a result of COVID-19.

The letter encouraged state legislators to coordinate with their governors and state agency leaders to keep public lands and waters, wildlife management areas, boat launches, trails, and other hunting and fishing areas open to the public, while keeping state park and public land visitors centers closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Maintaining the openness of these public lands, while following recommendations to limit the spread of COVID-19, will still afford our citizens the liberty to enjoy the nation’s natural resources while simultaneously supporting public health objectives. Hunters, anglers and other outdoor recreationalists naturally practice social distancing nearly every time they engage in these activities. CSF understands and recognizes the need to follow the guidance of our nation’s public health officials and believes these activities should be consistent with the guidelines set forth by these officials. 

These activities are critically important to rural communities during this time of economic and social uncertainty. Access to public lands and waters are critical for the nation’s economy, as well as for the financial, physical and mental well-being of our nation’s outdoor enthusiasts and the businesses that support these needs. 

This request came at the time of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s announcement of the suspension of entrance fees at national parks, national wildlife refuges, and Bureau of Land Management sites to continue to allow these activities in a safe and healthy manner during this unfortunate health crisis. Maintaining public access to public lands will allow Americans to spend time outdoors while they practice safe social distancing.

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Recently, Virginia has proposed legislation that would make the punishment for poaching, in their state, a 1-5 year prison sentence through HB-449. Poaching undermines the social acceptance of hunters, jobs, recreation, local and state economies, and conservation efforts. How should poachers be punished?

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