Why It Matters: During the final week of the 2023 Legislative Session in Arkansas, Caucus members continued to advance legislation designed to promote wildlife habitat conservation, recruit the next generation of sportsmen and sportswomen, and generally support our nation’s time-honored outdoor traditions. As the end of other state legislative sessions continue to draw near across the Midwest, CSF will continue to work with NASC Caucuses to support legislation central to our mission and to the benefit of the sporting conservation community at large.
- The Arkansas State Legislature has recently taken several steps to advance and pass pro-sportsmen and pro-conservation legislation in the Natural State.
- Introduced by Arkansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair and NASC Executive Council Secretary Representative Jeff Wardlaw, House Bill 1763 will create a discounted lifetime combination license for youth ages 10 and younger.
- Co-authored by several members of the Arkansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, Senate Bill 415 will define liability standards for the use of prescribed fire on private lands throughout the state in a manner that encourages its use as a habitat management tool.
During the final week of the 2023 Legislative Session, the Arkansas State Legislature advanced several pieces of legislation that are important to sportsmen and sportswomen. With each of these bills are now on the Governor’s desk and are waiting to be signed into law, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation applauds with members of the Arkansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and their efforts to pass these bills.
Up first is House Bill 1763, which was introduced by Arkansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair and NASC Executive Council Secretary Representative Jeff Wardlaw. HB 1763 would allow the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to offer discounted lifetime hunting and fishing licenses to youth residents ages ten and younger. Aligning with existing opportunities in Missouri and, as of 2022, Kansas, this opportunity will allow Arkansans to invest in the next generation of sportsmen and women while protecting the sustainability of the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding.
Next, we have Senate Bill 415, which is currently co-sponsored by several members of the Arkansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. SB 415 seeks to formally define liability standards for qualified prescribed burners and private landowners seeking to utilize prescribed fire as a land and wildlife habitat management practice. SB 415 further grants the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission the ability to create and approve training programs for qualified prescribed burners. As written, SB 415 follows closely on the heels of similarly titled language passed in Missouri in 2021.
As session drew to a close, both HB 1763 and SB 415 was passed by the Arkansas State Legislative, making the bill eligible for gubernatorial approval. Once signed into law, these bills will represent a couple of great opportunities for both sportsmen and women, and for the application of critical conservation practices across the state. For more information on these and other bills relevant to sportsmen and sportswomen, stay tuned to The Sportsmen’s Voice.