CSF Secures Victories for Access, Conservation, and State Wildlife Management as Sessions Conclude in Lower Midwest

Contact: Kent Keene, Senior Coordinator, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

Highlights

  • As sessions come to a close across much of the Lower Midwest, several important policy priorities have been passed.
    • Kansas Senate Bill 159 (SB 159) was amended by a conference committee and passed to authorize the purchase of a tract of land in Kingman County by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, & Tourism for public access.
    • Missouri House Bill 369 (HB 369), which was passed by the legislature on May 14, would authorize the Missouri Prescribed Burn Act and define liability standards for landowners and managers using fire for land management purposes.
    • Texas Senate Bill 700 (SB 700) was passed by the legislature to extend the sunset for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department until reviewed again in 2033.
  • While we continue to monitor several priorities that remain pending in legislatures across the region, we thank those involved for the successes of 2021 so far.

Why it matters: As several states across the Lower Midwest see their 2021 legislative session come to a close, now is an opportunity to look back at some of the policy victories that have been realized throughout the region so far this year. While the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has reported on several of these bills as they progressed throughout the legislative process, we are providing more updates regarding bills that have passed in recent weeks. These bills are related to state fish and wildlife agency operations, land acquisitions for public access and opportunities, and efforts to make private land management practices more accessible for landowners.

While many of the state legislatures in the Lower Midwest and around the country have started to wind down for the 2021 legislative session, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is proud to report on recent priorities that have been successfully passed by the legislature in several states across the region. Stay tuned to CSF’s weekly newsletter, The Sportsmen’s Voice, for more updates as sessions continue to near their adjournment.

Kansas: Kingman County Land Acquisition

While unsuccessful as a standalone bill in 2020 and 2021, an amendment was added by the conference committee to an appropriations bill (Senate Bill 159) which, among other things, authorizes the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, & Tourism to acquire a property in Kingman County, Kansas for public access opportunities. This property near Wichita represents an excellent opportunity to increase public access for sportsmen and women near one of the state’s most densely populated cities. CSF testified in support of the standalone bill (Senate Bill 145) earlier this session and was happy to see the language cross the finish line.

Missouri: Prescribed Burn Act

After working with several in-state partners and members of the Missouri Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus in 2020 and 2021, the Missouri Prescribed Burn Act (Act) will officially be sent to Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Mike Parson for his signature before being enacted. This Act, which defines liability standards for landowners and certified prescribed burn managers, represents a critical step in promoting the use of this important land management tool on The Show-Me State’s private lands.

Texas: Texas Fish and Wildlife Agency Sunset Extension

Finally, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 700, which extends the state agency sunset on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to 2033. This bill, authored by Texas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Dawn Buckingham, was a top priority for many members of the sportsmen’s community in The Lone Star State. With its passage, Senate Bill 700 ensures that TPWD will be able to continue managing Texas’ public trust resources for the benefit of all Texas, including the state’s sportsmen and women.

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