November 19, 2019

Senate Committee Advances Important Interior Nominee and Conservation Funding Bill

On November 19, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (Committee) voted to advance the nomination of Ms. Kate MacGregor to serve as Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior. In addition, the Committee also voted to advance the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act (S. 1081). Both actions passed on a bipartisan vote.

Prior to today’s vote, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) sent a letter and an alert to Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members who serve on the Committee urging them to vote favorably to advance Ms. MacGregor’s nomination to the Senate floor for further consideration.

“Through her unique work experiences, Ms. MacGregor has demonstrated her firm commitment to advancing public access opportunities on federal lands and waters for a diversity of outdoor recreationists, including America’s sportsmen and women, while also advancing sound conservation policies,” CSF President Jeff Crane stated in the letter.
MacGregor has served in a number of critically important roles throughout the years, including, serving as a Congressional staffer on the House Natural Resources Committee Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Lands and Minerals Management at the Department, and currently serves as the Department’s Deputy Chief of Staff where she has been exercising the authority of the Deputy Secretary since May.

Building off of the successful bipartisan passage of MacGregor’s nomination, the Committee also voted to advance S. 1081, which was introduced by CSC Vice-Chair and Committee Ranking Member Senator Joe Manchin (WV) to provide permanent and dedicated funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually.

Earlier this year, the Committee passed S. 47, the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which was signed into law by the President on March 12 after passing Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support. Included in S. 47 was a longstanding CSF priority known as the Making Public Lands Public Initiative, which seeks to increase public access for sportsmen and women, that is now part of LWCF statute. This provision requires that 3 % or $15 million – whichever is greater – of LWCF funds be made available for the purpose of securing additional public access for hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and other outdoor-related activities.

Recent studies estimate that there are nearly 10 million acres of public land 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. This issue can be addressed by providing dedicated funding to LWCF, specifically to the Making Public Lands Public initiative to increase public access for sportsmen and women by providing resources for states, willing landowners, and conservation groups to complete access projects on a voluntary basis.  

“CSF applauds the Committee for prioritizing the nomination of Kate MacGregor to serve as our nation’s next Deputy Secretary of the Interior, as well as voting to provide full funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which will provide more financial certainty to those on the ground working to increase public access opportunities for sportsmen and women through the Making Public Lands Public Initiative.” said Crane.

The nomination of Ms. MacGregor and S. 1081 await further action on the Senate floor.

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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