The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined more than 850 organizations in a letter to the leadership of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives urging them to quickly pass the Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422).
S. 3422 is unprecedented legislation that will provide $9.5 billion over 5 years to address our public land deferred maintenance backlog and provide $900 million annually to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Prior to final introduction of S. 3422, through alerts and a letter, CSF worked to ensure that additional funding to increase access for sportsmen and women was included as part of the bill. Specifically, CSF coordinated with leaders and members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus to provide funding for the maintenance backlog on lands and waters that are of critical importance to hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters, including the Bureau of Land Management, National Wildlife Refuge System, and the U.S. Forest Service. The inclusion of these agencies marks a historic victory for sportsmen and women.
Public roads, bridges, trails, and visitor centers have deteriorated at a rate much faster than what federal land agencies have been able to keep up with as a result of budget shortfalls, increased usage, and aging facilities, which is collectively known as deferred maintenance. Deferred maintenance on federal public lands totals roughly $20 billion, and limits the opportunities of sportsmen and women to access these treasured lands and waters. Fortunately, S. 3422 will help reduce the deferred maintenance on federal lands and will therefore increase access for sportsmen and women.
Furthermore, to build on past success, the Great American Outdoors Act will provide permanent and full funding of $900 million annually for LWCF with a significant portion going to projects that benefit hunters and wildlife. LWCF is a decades-old program that reinvests revenue from offshore oil and gas revenues to fund on-the-ground federal, state, and local conservation and access projects such as conserving forests and improving fish and wildlife habitat, among many other important projects. Since 1964, LWCF has provided $17.5 billion for over 40,000 recreation and conservation projects in every county in the country. Despite this tremendous impact, Congress has fully funded LWCF only once in the lifetime of the program, but this lack of investment will be permanently resolved with the passage of S. 3422.
S. 3422 is a top priority piece of legislation for CSF and we will continue to work to advance this 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?