BIPARTISAN SPORTSMEN'S ACT ADVANCES IN SENATE
On November 19th, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources took a big step towards opening up more land for hunting and fishing by voting to advance the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2015.
This important piece of legislation would give hunters, anglers, and outdoorsmen greater access to federal lands. It also reauthorizes two key conservation programs (Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act) and gives federal land managers such as the BLM and Forest Service new management plans that keep these lands open for outdoor activities.
In order for hunting and fishing areas to be closed in these lands for any period of time, state fish and wildlife agencies would need to be consulted and the public given sufficient notice.
Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico first introduced this legislation that builds on provisions from 2014 legislation. The bill has the full support of hunting, fishing, and conservation groups.
Senator Murkowski expressed her pride in the efforts to advance the bill:
“The Sportsman’s Act celebrates some of our nation’s longest-standing traditions and will benefit millions of Americans who love fishing, hunting, recreational shooting, and a wide range of other outdoor activities. It will ensure that our public lands are open unless closed, provide new opportunities for more Americans to enjoy those lands, and require federal agencies to expand and enhance access in accordance with their missions. As a sportswoman, I am proud of the work we have done today to advance this important bipartisan effort.”
Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, is excited about its possibilities:
“Lack of access is one of the major barriers to sustaining our uniquely American heritage of hunting and fishing — one that powers local economies and provides local jobs. We’re eager to see this legislation move forward and empower our federal land managers to make these assurances for the next generation of sportsmen and women.”
The bill has progressed in part due to strong leadership and advocacy from groups such as the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation
It still has a long way to go before it will become law, but we are confident that our nation's legislators will do the right thing and approve it so that Americans can see its many benefits.