On June 19, the House Natural Resources Committee held a legislative markup on H.R. 3195, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Member (CSC) Congressman Van Drew (NJ).
Earlier this year, S. 47 – the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act – permanently reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) when it was signed into law. The Making Public Lands Public initiative (MPLP), a longstanding priority for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and other sporting-conservation organizations, was included in S. 47 and is now a component of LWCF as well. This important initiative designates $15 million annually from LWCF for projects that increase public access to landlocked federal public land for sportsmen and women and other recreationists.
During the markup, CSC Member Congressman Paul Gosar (AZ) offered Amendment 129 that would have doubled the MPLP provision in LWCF to 6% or $30 million – whichever is greater – to be used to secure access to federal public lands for hunting, fishing, and other recreational purposes. Unfortunately, this amendment was defeated in Committee.
Recent studies estimate there are nearly 10 million acres of public lands in the west that are open to hunting, fishing, recreational shooting and other outdoor activities, but the general public is currently unable to access these lands for a variety of reasons. Lapsed sportsmen and women often cite lack of adequate access as the number one reason they no longer participate in hunting and fishing.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to work with CSC Members to ensure access for America’s sportsmen and women is prioritized in LWCF.
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?