Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Members introduced four comprehensives packages in this Congress: the Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47), the ACCESS Act (H.R. 1326), the Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422), and the America’s Conservation Enhancement Act (S. 3051). Three of these packages, S. 47, S. 3422, and S. 3051, were signed into law, while many of the provisions contained in the ACCESS Act were included as part of the S. 3051. In summary, the culmination of these legislative victories, combined with standalone victories such as the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support and the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act, make the 116th Congress the most significant Congress in a lifetime for America’s sportsmen and women.
John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act
Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Senator Maria Cantwell (WA) introduced the Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47), which was signed into law on March 13, 2019 and renamed the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act. This bill received broad bipartisan support, passing the House with a vote of 363 – 62 and the Senate with a vote of 92 – 8.
S. 47 includes a number of longstanding CSF priorities that are critically important to increasing access for sportsmen and women to public lands. Some of the provisions contained in S. 47 include:
- Bows Transported Through National Parks (Sec. 2409)
- Wildlife Management in Parks (Sec. 2410)
- Federal Land Open to Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Shooting (Sec. 4102)
- Identifying Opportunities for Recreation, Hunting, and Fishing on Federal Land (Sec. 4105)
- Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support (Sec. 4301)
- Migratory Bird Framework and Hunting Opportunities for Veterans (Sec. 4401)
The ACCESS Act (H.R. 1326) was introduced on February 22, 2019 by CSC Member Congressman Mike Thompson (CA), and would increase public access, conserve critical fish and wildlife habitat, and provide agencies with resources to combat wildlife diseases. The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on this legislation on March 26, and now awaits further action. This pro-sportsmen’s package includes the following provisions:
- North American Wetlands Conservation Act: reauthorizes NAWCA for $75 million annually through FY 2024, providing matching grants to organizations, state/local governments, and private landowners for the acquisition, restoration, and enhancement of wetlands critical to migratory birds. This program often generates three additional dollars for every federal dollar spent.
- National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Establishment Reauthorization: reauthorizes the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Establishment Act through fiscal year 2024. Provides $15 million to the Secretary of the Interior, $5 million to the Secretary of Agriculture, and $5 million to the Secretary of Commerce. NFWF supports many conservation projects in the country across all 50 states and U.S. territories completing more than 16,500 since creation in 1984.
- Fish Habitat Conservation: Congressionally authorizes the National Fish Habitat Conservation through Partnerships at $7.2 million through fiscal year 2024 to provide funds for collaborative, on-the-ground fish habitat conservation projects.
- Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support: extends and increases states’ authority to allocate Pittman-Robertson funding for acquiring land for, expanding, or constructing public shooting ranges, provides liability protection to public ranges, and encourages federal land agencies to cooperate with state and local governments to maintain shooting ranges. Reduces the state match requirement from 25% to 10% and increases by three years the states accrual period for range construction, expansion, and maintenance funds from two to five years.
- Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee: amends the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act to permanently establish the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on wildlife and habitat conservation, hunting, and recreational shooting.
- Film Crews: directs the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to require a permit and assess an annual fee for any film crew of three persons or fewer, for commercial filming activities on federal lands and waterways administered by the Secretaries.
- Chronic Wasting Disease Management: provides $35 million to support State and Tribal efforts to manage and control CWD. The funds are apportioned in the following manner: $20 million to states, $5 million to tribal agencies, $10 million to be retained for the rapid response fund. This provision also provides $10 million to be available to for applied research.
- Chronic Wasting Disease Transmission in Cervidae Study requires the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior to conduct a study on CWD to identify pathways and mechanisms for the transmission of CWD. There is an increasing need for reliable data on CWD transmission which can be addressed by such a study.
Note: Many of the provisions contained in the ACCESS Act were included in the America’s Conservation Enhancement Act as referenced below.