On June 10, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members gathered to discuss the recently introduced “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act” of 2015 (H.R. 2406) – a comprehensive sportsmen’s package similar to the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 (S. 405), which was introduced in the Senate in February. The “Comprehensive Sportsmen’s Packages in the House and Senate” Breakfast Briefing provided a forum for CSC Members and staff to discuss the importance of protecting the sportsmen’s heritage through Congress.
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President Jeff Crane addressed the audience on the importance of these pro-sportsmen’s bills. “It’s great to have so many Members of Congress as friends of sportsmen and women. This is a bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus because we all care about hunting, fishing, and the great outdoors, independent of our political affiliation,” said Crane. Additionally, 40 national sportsmen’s and other conservation organizations sent a letter to House CSC Members on June 8 in support of the SHARE Act.
CSC Co-Chair Congressman Rob Wittman (VA) and CSC Vice-Chair Congressman Gene Green (TX) introduced the SHARE Act as original cosponsors of the bill. “We coordinated to include as many bills as we can, and get as much done for sportsmen and women as possible,” said Congressman Wittman.
“The four House CSC leaders work together very well. In a bipartisan effort, we have included a lot of important pieces of pro-sportsmen’s and outdoor legislation in the SHARE Act,” said Congressman Green. “Any one of these pieces of legislation would help sportsmen and women and the industry, but we want to get a package of provisions together in the SHARE Act that all of us can support and that will get to the President’s desk.”
CSC Member and sponsor of the SHARE Act in the 113th Congress, Congressman Bob Latta (OH) expressed urgency for Congress to pass the SHARE Act this year, and also spoke on the Public Lands Filming (Title XIII) and the “Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council” (Title V) provisions that he sponsored. “I know with the new [Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus] leadership, we are going to get this bill passed out of the House again.”
House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands Chairman and CSC Member Congressman Tom McClintock spoke on the importance of the SHARE Act to federal public lands. “This package includes federal lands reform provisions that are so desperately needed, first, to restore public access to the public lands. It is our job to [conserve] these lands for future generations, and not by closing these lands to the current generations,” said Congressman McClintock.
CSC Member Congressman Bob Gibbs (OH) discussed the “Recreational Lands Self Defense” (Title IV) provision. “A few years ago, Congress opened up national parks and forest lands, allowing you to carry concealed weapons, as long as you are following the state law. They omitted Army Corps of Engineers lands, [which includes] millions of acres. So this legislation allows [Americans to express their] Second Amendment rights on these lands.” CSC Member Congressman Rick Crawford (AR) explained the “Hunter and Farmer Protection Act” (Title VII) provision. “This piece of legislation was added to the SHARE Act without any controversy, just as a common sense piece of legislation. Farmers do [these agricultural practices] to preserve conservation value on their land,” said Congressman Crawford. CSC Member Congressman Dan Newhouse (WA) followed with the “Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Reauthorization” (Title IX) provision. “The FLTFA provision is reauthorizing a bill that expired several years ago, and was proven to be very successful. It is a good, common sense way [to encourage] land conservation,” said Congressman Newhouse.
This Breakfast Briefing was sponsored by Safari Club International (SCI). SCI’s Chip Burkhalter wrapped up this morning’s event with thoughts on “Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage Opportunities,” (Title VI) “Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness,” (Title III) and “African Elephant Conservation and Legal Ivory Possession” (Title X) provisions. “We need to act now, for the interests of nearly 40 million Americans who hunt and fish, who contribute $90 billion to this economy,” said Burkhalter.
H.R. 2406, introduced in May by CSC leadership, and S. 405, introduced in February by CSC Members Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Senator Martin Heinrich (NM) along with CSC leadership cosponsors, includes nine similar provisions.
Yesterday, on June 9, 20 CSC Members and approximately 100 representatives from the sportsmen’s community gathered for the annual “Whiskies of the World” & Cigar Reception, where they discussed current issues within the sportsmen’s community prior to today’s briefing.
Host Sponsors of this year’s “Whiskies of the World” and Cigar Reception included: Anheuser-Busch Companies, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, Diageo, International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, ITC Holdings Corporations, JC Larkin Company, LLC, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Remington, Richard Childress Racing, Safari Club International, Shimano American Corporation, Southern Company, United Sporting Companies, Vista Outdoor Inc., and Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, Inc. Co-Host Sponsors of the event include: Comcast NBCUniversal, Ducks Unlimited, General Atomics Aeronautical System Inc., Greenberg Traurig, INTEGRITYOne Partners, Inc., and Natural Resource Results.
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?