The Senate approved the Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47), which contains many longstanding priorities advocated by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), on a bipartisan vote of 92 - 8.
Introduced by Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee Chair and Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) along with Senator Maria Cantwell (WA), this comprehensive package of legislation includes numerous provisions that will improve access for sportsmen and women and will provide resources for habitat conservation programs. Following introduction in January, nearly 50 organizations submitted a support letter urging Senate Leadership to consider S. 47. Some of the priority sporting provisions in this bill include:
- Authorizing the transportation of archery equipment through National Park Service (NPS) Units.
- Directing Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lands to be open for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting unless specifically closed.
- Directing the NPS, BLM, USFS, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to annually identify lands where sporting related activities are permitted, but where access is currently unavailable or restricted.
- Permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund with 3% or $15 million of annual appropriations made available for the purpose of securing additional access for hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and other outdoor related activities.
“The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation applauds the Senate Leadership for bringing this important legislation for sportsmen and women to the floor for a vote,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. “This is common sense legislation that is the result of years of negotiations with Congressional champions to get to this point, and CSF will work with the House of Representatives to pass this legislation and get it signed into law.”
Sen. Murkowski provided a statement on the Senate floor. “This package contains huge wins for Americans.” She continued, “It also expands and enhances access for our sportsmen and women on federal lands for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities.”
During his floor speech, Ranking Member of the ENR Committee and CSC Vice-Chair Senator Joe Manchin said, “This package enjoys the support of numerous stakeholder organizations across the political spectrum. For example, the National Wildlife Federation and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation are two of its strongest and most dedicated advocates; and I thank them for their support.”
He continued, “The Natural Resources Management Act will enhance and expand sportsmen’s access by making federal lands in West Virginia and throughout the nation open unless closed for fishing, hunting, recreational shooting, and other outdoor activities. As a hunter myself, and as Vice-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, I know how frustrated sportsmen’s groups have been trying to get their bills passed the last few years.”
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- Improve hunter and target shooter involvement in regulatory and legislative processes. (11.52%)
- Enact or expand temporary hunter education deferral programs (apprentice license programs, multiyear options, programs for all first-time hunters regardless of age, and programs promoting hunting of multiple game species). (11.52%)
- Offer shooting sports and hunter education as school activities and recreation programs. (64.40%)
- Link existing programming into family-oriented organizations (such as churches and home-school groups) where participants will have the social support to continue. (12.57%)