Contact: Kent Keene, Senior Coordinator, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy
Why it matters: As several states across the Lower Midwest see their 2021 legislative session come to a close, now is an opportunity to look back at some of the policy victories that have been realized throughout the region so far this year. While the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has reported on several of these bills as they progressed throughout the legislative process, we are providing more updates regarding bills that have passed in recent weeks. These bills are related to state fish and wildlife agency operations, land acquisitions for public access and opportunities, and efforts to make private land management practices more accessible for landowners.
While many of the state legislatures in the Lower Midwest and around the country have started to wind down for the 2021 legislative session, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is proud to report on recent priorities that have been successfully passed by the legislature in several states across the region. Stay tuned to CSF’s weekly newsletter, The Sportsmen’s Voice, for more updates as sessions continue to near their adjournment.
Kansas: Kingman County Land Acquisition
While unsuccessful as a standalone bill in 2020 and 2021, an amendment was added by the conference committee to an appropriations bill (Senate Bill 159) which, among other things, authorizes the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, & Tourism to acquire a property in Kingman County, Kansas for public access opportunities. This property near Wichita represents an excellent opportunity to increase public access for sportsmen and women near one of the state’s most densely populated cities. CSF testified in support of the standalone bill (Senate Bill 145) earlier this session and was happy to see the language cross the finish line.
Missouri: Prescribed Burn Act
After working with several in-state partners and members of the Missouri Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus in 2020 and 2021, the Missouri Prescribed Burn Act (Act) will officially be sent to Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Mike Parson for his signature before being enacted. This Act, which defines liability standards for landowners and certified prescribed burn managers, represents a critical step in promoting the use of this important land management tool on The Show-Me State’s private lands.
Texas: Texas Fish and Wildlife Agency Sunset Extension
Finally, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 700, which extends the state agency sunset on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to 2033. This bill, authored by Texas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Dawn Buckingham, was a top priority for many members of the sportsmen’s community in The Lone Star State. With its passage, Senate Bill 700 ensures that TPWD will be able to continue managing Texas’ public trust resources for the benefit of all Texas, including the state’s sportsmen and women.
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?