Why it matters: Millions of America’s hunters, anglers, boaters, trappers, and target shooters rely on federal public lands and waters for recreational opportunities. This bill seeks to increase recreational shooting opportunities on Bureau of Land Management and National Forest lands, protect federally managed waters from aquatic invasive species, and to synthesize public land visitation and recreation data to better inform public land management decisions, among others.
On November 18, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Vice Chair Senator Joe Manchin and CSC Member Senator John Barrasso introduced the bipartisan Outdoor Recreation Act, a priority for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF). Over the last few months, CSF has coordinated with the bill sponsors to help construct and strengthen this important piece of legislation.
Specifically, the bill takes an innovative step to require the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior to ensure that each National Forest and Bureau of Land Management district has at least one public recreational target shooting range. Last year alone, through excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment, our nation’s sportsmen and women contributed roughly $702 million to wildlife conservation through the Pittman-Robertson Fund. Over 80% of this funding is directly attributable to recreational target shooters, who often spend even more than hunters on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment. This provision in the Outdoor Recreation Act recognizes the important role of target shooters and seeks to increase access for this important and time-honored tradition.
The Outdoor Recreation Act also seeks to modernize federal public land recreation data to enhance future land management decisions and planning efforts. Under this bill, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior would be required to establish a singular data management system to provide accurate, real-time, and consistent site-specific data to be broken down by recreational activity. Currently, recreational visitation data is inconsistent and often misses information that demonstrates the significance of federal public lands for hunting, fishing, trapping, recreational shooting, and other forms of outdoor recreation.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation applauds Chair Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso for introducing the Outdoor Recreation Act, and for continuing to serve as champions for America’s sportsmen and women. CSF looks forward to continuing working with Senators Manchin and Barrasso to advance this common-sense, practical legislation.
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?