March 8, 2018

House Natural Resources Committee Holds Markup on Important Access Legislation

On March 7, the House Natural Resources Committee held a full markup of H.R. 5133, the Federal Lands Transaction Facilitation Act Reauthorization of 2018 (FLTFA), which was introduced on March 1 by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (UT).

FLTFA is a western federal lands program that uses revenue generated from the sale of low-value Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands identified for disposal to provide funding for high-priority land conservation. The existing FLTFA statute, which expired in 2011, authorized federal agencies to purchase inholdings or other specific lands in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

If signed into law, H.R. 5133 would permanently reauthorize FLTFA and once again allow the BLM to strategically sell inaccessible and other unwanted land to provide funding for high-priority land conservation. The bill would also require the Department of the Interior to establish a database containing a list of all lands identified for disposal under existing provisions of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976. Additionally, this legislation will increase public access to public lands by making future land acquisitions with high “recreational access and use” values eligible for the program. Priority species and habitats on BLM land could also benefit from expanded definitions outlined in the bill.

Prior to the markup, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined a diverse group of supporters, including many members of American Wildlife Conservation Partners, in expressing support for FLTFA reauthorization.

During the markup, the Natural Resource Committee also adopted an amendment that would allow the BLM to use a portion of the funds generated through FLTFA to provide access to inaccessible public lands that are open to hunting, fishing, recreational shooting and other recreational purposes. A longstanding CSF priority, this language would further the goal of “making public lands public” by providing resources for federal land managers to work with willing landowners to provide recreational access to lands that are technically “open” to hunting, fishing and target shooting, but where no reasonable public access exists due to factors such as land ownership patterns or topography.

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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