Why It Matters: One of the key principles of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, the world’s most successful wildlife conservation model, is that wildlife resources are held in the public trust. At the core of this tenet is the Public Trust Doctrine, which established a trustee relationship for the government to manage fish, wildlife, and waterways for the public’s benefit. Angler and hunter access across the country is dependent on these principles being upheld, and Georgia Senate Bill 115 (SB 115) protects access for sportsmen and women guided by these principles.
- On May 1, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Brian Kemp signed SB 115 into law.
- SB 115 ensures that Georgia’s sportsmen and women can access navigable streams in the state.
- Maintaining hunting and freshwater angling access for sportsmen and women is crucial to supporting our time-honored sporting traditions.
On April 28, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter to Governor Kemp encouraging him to sign SB 115 into law. The letter stressed that this “legislation codifies 160 years of common law that provides access to navigable streams held in the public trust for Georgia’s citizens to fish, hunt, and boat. Maintaining access to navigable streams for fishing and hunting is critical to carrying on Georgia’s sporting traditions, and we hope you will sign the legislation into law.”
Maintaining access for sportsmen and women is important as lack of access has been cited as a barrier to hunter and angler recruitment, retention, and reactivation. SB 115 becoming law is a significant victory, ensuring Georgians will be able to continue to use and enjoy their state’s waterways for fishing, hunting, and boating.
Keeping anglers and hunters engaged by maintaining access to navigable streams is important because hunting and fishing participation, and consequently license sales, with access being one of the most significant barriers for both new and experienced anglers and hunters. State – based conservation funding for fish and wildlife management depends on sportsmen and women through the “user pays—public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding. In addition, Georgia’s sportsmen and women have a significant economic impact supporting almost 40,000 jobs and contributing $3.8 billion to the state’s economy.
CSF appreciates the work of conservation- minded legislators and other conservation partners in Georgia backing this bill, and CSF applauds Governor Kemp for signing SB 115 into law.