Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Inter-Mountain Western States Coordinator
The Inter-Mountain West regions’ legislative sessions have concluded for the year. Members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) States Program Team continue to monitor legislation and regulatory rulemaking throughout the region as several states have instituted special legislative sessions as a result of COVID-19. Below are a few legislative highlights from the Inter-Mountain West.
On February 10, AZ H 2844 was introduced with the aim of making it possible for a person to transfer their big game hunting permit or tag to a “gold star child,” meaning a minor child whose parent was killed in action while serving in the U.S. Military. H 2844 was held in the Senate due to COVID-19.
On January 22, AZ S 1263 was introduced with the goal of repealing the Arizona Game and Fish Commission Appointment Recommendation Board, however the bill died in the Senate Rules Committee. The Arizona Game and Fish Commission Appointment Recommendation Board assists the governor by interviewing, evaluating and recommending candidates for appointment to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation highly values and strongly supports the tried and true role of the Commission in the science-based management of our fish and wildlife throughout the country.
The Idaho legislature adjourned sine die on March 20. Several pro-sportsmen pieces of legislation were enacted this year, two of which are highlighted here. As Idaho Department of Fish and Game initiatives, H 545 established a season for tundra swans within the state, while H 544 expanded the upland gamebird program to additional properties outside of wildlife management areas. Both H 544 and H 545 increase hunting opportunities within Idaho, as well as potentially increasing the monetary contributions of sportsmen and women to state conservation through the American System of Conservation Funding by drawing in more participants. Additionally, H 544 complements current state and nationwide efforts to increase hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation by offering additional upland game bird hunting opportunities for sportsmen and women throughout the state. CSF formally supported both pieces of legislation. For a more comprehensive look into Idaho’s 2020 legislative session, see “Idaho: 2020 – Phenomenal Legislative Session for Sportsmen and Women.”
The Montana State Legislature is in session every other year. The 2020 session was an off-year, and the legislature will resume in 2021.
Due to a short 30-day budget session and associated restrictions for 2020, efforts were limited within the state. CSF formally supported NM S 273 – The Agricultural and Natural Resource Trust Act – which would have created a state trust fund for the purpose of establishing a perpetual funding source to be used in the allocation of agricultural and natural resource trust grants. Such grants would have been awarded to eligible entities and projects, focused on conservation, habitat, culturally significant resources, and land easement purchases to create public access to landlocked private lands, just to highlight a few. Despite failing to progress through the legislature before sine die on February 20, S 273 was a great example of a collaborative effort of the New Mexico outdoor community for the betterment of natural resource management throughout the state. There are plans to reintroduce the Agriculture and Natural Resource Trust Act in the 2021 session.
The Utah State Legislature adjourned sine die on March 12. Several pro-sportsmen pieces of legislation were signed by Governor Sportsmen’s Caucus member, Governor Herbert, of which only 2 have been highlighted here. Enacted on March 2, H 125 directs the Director of the Division of Wildlife Resources to take immediate action to reduce predator populations when a big game population is under the established herd size objective for a management unit. H 233 – the Utah Natural Resources Legacy Fund Act – funds landscape level conservation throughout the state by supporting projects that would provide perpetual access for hunting, fishing, trapping, habitat conservation, multiple use of renewable natural resources, and management of non-game species that would reduce the likelihood of future listings of species under the Endangered Species Act. For a more comprehensive look into Utah’s 2020 legislative session, see “Utah: One for the Record Books – Outstanding 2020 Legislative Session.”
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?