As of December 13, both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed a F.Y. 2015 $1.1 trillion appropriations bill for the U.S. government, which extends until September 30, 2015.
In a win for the sportsmen’s community, unwarranted regulation of traditional ammunition and fishing tackle with lead components via the Toxic Substances Control Act will be banned during this period. The use of traditional lead ammunition and fishing tackle remains an acceptable and viable method for hunting and angling as there is currently no science-based evidence that these methods negatively impact fish and wildlife at a population-based level.
Section 425 of the appropriations bills states, “None of the funds made available by this or any other Act may be used to regulate the lead content of ammunition, ammunition components, or fishing tackle under the Toxic Substances Control Act or any other law.” This has been a priority for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and partners.
Other conservation funding has been included as well. The North American Wetlands Conservation Fund will keep current funding levels of $34.1 million. More specifically, funding has been appropriated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for maintaining public lands and waters for recreational use. The National Fish Hatchery System will receive $52.8 million, along with clear instructions that none of the funds may be used to terminate operations or to close any facility. The bill further ensures that the Service continues their 140-year tradition of supporting commercial, subsistence, and recreational fishing.
The sportsmen’s community also saw shortfalls this year as well. Funds for wildfire suppression operations have been included to an extent, although not enough to subdue fires without taking from other programs, as noted within the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act introduced earlier this year. And finally, the permanent extension to conservation tax incentives failed to cross the finish, with only an extension through 2014.
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?