May 29, 2013

Hearing Held on Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act

On Thursday, May 9, the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held a legislative hearing on H.R. 1825, the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act. This legislation, which passed the House during the 112th Congress as a part of H.R. 4089, the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012, would recognize the rightful place of hunting, recreational shooting and fishing on federal public lands and protects these activities from being closed to the public without sufficient justification. Click here to view the archived webcast of the hearing.

On May 9, 21 conservation organizations, including CSF, signed onto a letter in support of H.R. 1825. This legislation is vital to ensure future generations have the same opportunities to hunt and fish on America’s public lands. Specifically, H.R. 1825:

• Establishes an “open unless closed” policy for recreational hunting, fishing and shooting on lands managed by the USFS and BLM.
• Retains the discretion of federal land management agencies to establish closures or restrictions, pursuant to existing legal authorities, where and when the agencies determine that such closures or restrictions are appropriate or necessary and supported by the best scientific evidence.
• Directs management of federal public lands to facilitate the use of and access to these lands for recreational hunting, fishing and shooting with certain exceptions such as for national security and within the limitations of other Federal statutes, including the Wilderness Act.
• Requires that recreational hunting, fishing and shooting be addressed in land management plans in order to protect public access and to encourage proactive management of these activities.
• Prevents the sudden closure of lands to recreational hunting, fishing and shooting without public knowledge or input, or when lacking sound scientific support.
• Asserts the authority of the state fish and wildlife agency and ensures that hunting seasons are not unnecessarily restricted by federal land managers.
• Provides federal public land managers with tools to defend against litigation challenges that seek to limit or prohibit hunting access and opportunities.
• Expressly does not open units of the National Park System to recreational hunting or shooting and does not open lands designated as wilderness to activities prohibited by the Wilderness Act.

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?

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