Senate Committee Passes Sportsmen’s Access Legislation

On October 2, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a markup on numerous bills including S. 569, the Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act, as well as S. 3172, the Restore Our Parks Act, both of which were passed out of the Committee on bipartisan votes.

S. 569, which was introduced by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Senator Cantwell (WA), would permanently reauthorize and provide dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually. Currently, LWCF is authorized at $900 million, but is subject to annual appropriations, and has only been fully funded one time in the history of the program. This legislation would also ensure not less than 1.5 percent of the funds authorized for LWCF shall be made available each year for projects that would expand public access for sportsmen and women to lands and waters that provide opportunities for hunting, fishing, and other recreational purposes. H.R. 502, a bill to permanently reauthorize LWCF which is similar legislation to S. 569, has been introduced in the House of Representatives, and recently passed out of the Natural Resources Committee. H.R. 502 would permanently reauthorize LWCF at $900 million annually, however under this bill, LWCF would remain subject to annual appropriations as it has been since the program was first enacted.

S. 3172, which was introduced by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Senator Rob Portman (OH), would provide $1.3 billion for each of the fiscal years 2019 through 2023 to address the maintenance backlog of the National Park Service (NPS). NPS estimates the maintenance backlog is nearly $12 billion, and this legislation will provide funds to address top priority issues within the Service. Similar legislation (H.R. 6510) to S. 3172 was introduced in the House and recently passed out of the Natural Resources Committee during the same markup as H.R. 502.

These bills now await a floor vote in their respective chambers.

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The use of descending devices to safely release your catch has shown they significantly reduce the discard mortality of fish caught from deep water. Reducing discard mortality in both the commercial and recreational sector will translate to more abundant populations and additional access opportunities for anglers. Do you support the use of descending devices while reef fishing to safely release your catch?

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