February 29, 2012

Pro-Sportsmen Package of Bills Moving Forward

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An unprecedented package of pro-sportsmen’s legislation passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Committee. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has spent years working with the leaders and other members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) to advance this legislation. Jeff Crane, president of the CSF, says, “In the ten years I’ve been advocating for sportsmen’s issues for the CSF, I’ve never seen this much pro-hunting and fishing legislation bundled together with such a good chance of passing. This is occurring in large part due to the bipartisan leadership in the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.”

“This pro-sportsmen’s package of bills is a result of the commonsense bipartisan support of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus,” said Congressman Mike Ross, co-chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. “The Sportsmen’s Caucus has long been an advocate for hunters, anglers and outdoorsmen in our nation’s capital. With bipartisan leadership in both the House and the Senate, the Caucus is the sportsmen’s ally and first line of defense. I will continue working with my colleagues in the Caucus to ensure passage of this important legislation to champion the rights of hunters and anglers and to protect America’s most treasured outdoor traditions.”

Called the “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012” (H.R. 4089), the bill includes: language that would require recreational hunting, shooting and fishing to be recognized activities on all Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands; language that would protect recreational shooting on BLM National Monuments; language to clarify that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not have the jurisdiction to regulate traditional ammunition with lead components and lead fishing tackle ; and, language that amends the Marine Mammal Protection Act to allow hunters to import trophies from polar bears that were legally harvested.

Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Co-Chairman and bill sponsor, Rep. Jeff Miller said, “The passage of H.R. 4089 out of the House Natural Resources Committee was the first step of what I know will prove to be a huge victory for the Sportsmen’s community, all at no expense to the American taxpayer. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and an avid sportsman, I understand the critical importance of preserving our heritage and enhancing opportunities for fellow sportsmen, and I look forward to this legislation’s swift passage out of the House.”

TITLE I — RECREATIONAL FISHING AND HUNTING HERITAGE AND OPPORTUNITIES: After acknowledging that “recreational anglers and hunters have been and continue to be among the foremost supporters of sound fish and wildlife management and conservation in the United States” and defining recreational hunting and fishing as “environmentally acceptable and beneficial activities,” this legislation says (in part) that:

TITLE II — RECREATIONAL SHOOTING PROTECTION: This portion of the bill protects the ability of Americans to enjoy recreational shooting on public lands. Specifically, this portion of the bill says, “Subject to valid existing rights, National Monument land under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management shall be open to access and use for recreational shooting.” Therefore, if a Federal land agency needs to close a portion of land to recreational shooting they are required to “submit to Congress a report detailing the location and extent of, and evidence justifying, such a closure or restriction” and to meet other criteria designed to keep all available lands open to sportsmen and recreational shooters. This portion of H.R. 4089 also instructs Federal land managers to manage lands “in a manner that supports, promotes and enhances recreational shooting opportunities. . . .”

TITLE III — POLAR BEAR CONSERVATION AND FAIRNESS: This portion of the legislation permits the importation of polar bear trophies taken legally by hunters in Canada through an amendment to the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Additionally, up to $41,000 would be generated for polar bear conservation and research which will aid future polar bear conservation efforts.

TITLE IV — Amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to exclude traditional ammunition with lead components and lead fishing tackle from regulation by the EPA. The bill covers a variety of hunting and fishing components that will be exempt because they are subject to a Federal excise tax.

All of this, and much more not mentioned here, has taken years of work from the CSF, from the bipartisan co-chairs of the CSC and from many other members of the CSC. Other organizations that also worked for years behind the scenes to get this process started include: The National Rifle Association, Safari Club International, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Boone and Crockett Club and the American Sportfishing Association.

Though this pro-sportsmen package doesn’t include everything the CSF and other conservation groups have been advancing, this legislation is packed with important wins for America’s sportsmen and women in that it protects and promotes opportunities to hunt, fish and shoot. Importantly, this is a bipartisan package that has the support of the CSC leadership and no new funding is required to implement this legislation.

The CSF will keep you up to date on the status of H.R. 4089 as it moves forward.

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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