Senate Leadership Commits to Passing Great American Outdoors Act

Last week, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member and Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate Mitch McConnell (KY) committed to the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422), an unprecedented piece of legislation.

S. 3422 will provide $9.5 billion over 5 years to address the deferred maintenance backlog on federal public lands and waters with roughly $3 billion set aside to restore the infrastructure on lands and waters that are most important to sportsmen and women. In total, our federal public land management agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, face nearly $20 billion in deferred maintenance backlog, which will in part be addressed by S. 3422.

Furthermore, the Great American Outdoors Act will provide permanent and dedicated funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually, building on the success of S. 47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which permanently authorized LWCF, but did not provide any funding. S. 3422 will also ensure that $15 million of LWCF funding is set aside for the purpose of increasing access for hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and other forms of outdoor recreation on public lands and waters.

On March 9, the Great American Outdoors Act was introduced by CSC Member Cory Gardner (CO), CSC Co-Chair Martin Heinrich (NM), and CSC Vice-Chairs Joe Manchin (WV) and John Boozman (AR), and 55 other Senators, many of which are CSC Members, with the goal of increasing access and restoring public land infrastructure. Prior to the bill introduction, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) played a leading role in securing a dedicated percentage of funds to be available to increase access for sportsmen and women through numerous alerts sent to CSC members urging their support for this legislation.

CSF will continue to work to generate even stronger support for this legislation to ensure this bill passes the Senate and the House on a bipartisan vote.

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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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