August 5, 2019

Senate Committee Advances Recreational Public Access and Conservation through Infrastructure Bill

On July 29, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members Senators John Barrasso (WY), Tom Carper (DE), Shelley Capito (WV), as well as Senator Ben Cardin (MD) introduced America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (S. 2302). The following day, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee passed S. 2302 on a unanimous vote of 21 – 0.

This bipartisan bill authorizes $287 billion over five years to improve road safety, and enhance community connectivity and recreational opportunities while prioritizing important initiatives to advance fish and wildlife conservation. Some of the critical provisions contained in the baseline bill include:

While there are a number of outstanding provisions that need to be added to the baseline bill through the legislative process, one critically important provision that was not included, due to Committee jurisdictional issues, is the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Safety Trust Fund (Trust Fund), which is the backbone for state based fishery conservation funding in the United States. Funding for the Trust Fund was originally attained through excise taxes on fishing tackle and equipment, but was later expanded in 1984 through the Wallop-Breaux amendment to include motorboat fuel, which has since relied on the highway/transportation bill for reauthorization. These excise taxes generate around $650 million annually and nearly $10 billion total since 1950 for state-based fisheries conservation. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) will continue to work with our partners and CSC Members to ensure this critical provision is included in the bill for reauthorization.

CSF praises the significant steps that the Senate EPW Committee has taken to better our nation’s infrastructure and fish and wildlife conservation while increasing sporting access opportunities.

The bill now awaits further action in the Senate.

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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