December 21, 2017

House Passes the Keep America’s Refuges Operational Act with Strong Bipartisan Support

On December 18, the Keep America’s Refuges Operational Act (H.R. 3979) passed out of the House of Representatives with a strong bipartisan vote of 371-14. On October 11, H.R 3979 was introduced by Congressmen Hakeem Jeffries (NY) and Gregario Sablin (MP) and Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members Congressmen Rob Wittman (VA), Garret Graves (LA), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), and Mike Thompson (CA).

The Senate companion bill (S.1940) was introduced by CSC Members Senator Tom Carper (DE) and Senator John Barrasso (WY) on the same date. 

These bipartisan bills would reauthorize the volunteer services, community partnership, and refuge education programs of the National Wildlife Refuge System to ensure these lands and waters will remain open to hunting and fishing for future generations. Last year alone, there were nearly 50 million visitors to the nation’s 600 National Wildlife Refuges.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is a member of the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE).  CARE is a group consisting of 23 sportsmen-conservation, scientific, and wildlife groups that represent the broad coalition that support the ‘Big Six’ activities on National Wildlife Refuges. The ‘Big Six’ recreational uses of National Wildlife Refuges include: hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, education, and interpretation. There is more than $2.4 billion generated from ‘Big Six’ related activities on National Wildlife Refuges. 

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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