July 16, 2014

Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Leads Discussion on Wildfire Disaster Funding Act

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) hosted a Breakfast Briefing on Capitol Hill on July 16 focusing on the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (WDFA). Members of the bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) joined sportsmen’s and other conservation groups to discuss this pertinent issue and the recent efforts by CSC members in moving related legislation in both chambers.

CSC attendees included: Co-Chairs Representatives Bob Latta (OH) and Bennie Thompson (MS), Vice Chair Representative Rob Wittman (VA), and members Representatives Dan Benishek (MI), Joe Garcia (FL), Howard Coble (NC), Mike Simpson (ID), and former CSC member Bill Brewster (OK).

CSF President Jeff Crane introduced the CSC leadership and spoke on the impacts of WDFA. “The Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus deals with issues on conservation, habitat management, hunting, angling, recreational shooting, and trapping. So issues dealing with healthy forests and forest management are near and dear to all of us as outdoorsmen and women, and are important to this Caucus.”

Recently introduced in both the House (H.R. 3992) and the Senate (S. 1875), WDFA is supported by the many Americans who hunt and fish on federal public lands, particularly on national forests and Bureau of Land Management lands, as a necessary bill to ensure funding for wildfire suppression without taking important funds from non-fire programs.

CSC member Rep. Mike Simpson, who sponsored H.R. 3992, explained the details of WFDA: “We have over 100 cosponsors today, it’s bipartisan, and it’s important that we quit transferring money out of every account that the Forest Service has to fight wildfires. So if you’re interested in fuels reduction, trails maintenance, timber sales, or any wildlife programs in the Interior bill, then it does affect you. We drag money out of all those accounts to fight wildfires. It’s a vicious circle, and we are trying to change that.”

H.R. 3992 and S. 1875 fix these delay problems by funding a portion of the U.S. Forest Service and Department of Interior wildfire suppression costs through a budget cap adjustment similar to one used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for other natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes.

In response to Rep. Simpson urging his colleagues to support H.R. 3992, CSC member Rep. Joe Garcia joined as a cosponsor at the briefing. Click here to view Rep. Simpson’s ‘Dear Colleague’ letter.

CSC Co-Chair Rep. Bob Latta (OH) also briefly addressed the audience on the February House passage of the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act (H.R. 3590), and urged the Senate to work in a bipartisan fashion to advance a comprehensive Sportsmen’s Act. “We are going to keep working, because we need to get this thing done.  I want to thank and congratulate Jeff Crane and his staff for all the hard work they have done, as well as our staffs, and many of the people in this room who helped advance this package through the House.”

Speakers of the briefing also included: David Anderson, professional member of the Boone and Crockett Club; Erica Rhoad, Federal Liaison for National Rifle Association; and Cecilia Clavet, Senior Policy Advisor for The Nature Conservancy. These three organizations were also sponsors of the breakfast briefing.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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