On March 27, Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus (CSC) Members Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Senator Martin Heinrich (NM), along with CSC leaders, Senators Jim Risch (ID), Joe Manchin (WV), Deb Fischer (NE), and Heidi Heitkamp (ND), introduced a bipartisan sportsmen's package of legislation (S. 733) in the Senate.
Provisions within this bill would increase access to public lands for outdoor recreation, and enhance opportunities for pursuing hunting, angling, and recreational shooting traditions. Key provisions within S. 733 include:
- Reauthorizing federal land open to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting;
- Reauthorizing the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act;
- Exempts commercial filming permits for film crews of three or fewer, or for news gathering purposes;
- Authorizing the Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures (HUNT) Act
- Amends the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to allocate funds for construction and expansion of public target ranges on federal land;
- Permanently establishes the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture on wildlife and habitat conservation, hunting, and recreational shooting.
- Allows the transport of bows or crossbows across National Park Service (NPS) land;
- Allows use of qualified hunter volunteers to manage wildlife on NPS land.
Sen. Murkowski: "For too long, sportsmen's access to our federal lands has been restricted without reason or transparency. Our bipartisan Sportsmen's Act will ensure that our federal 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. The bill we introduced is an important first step as we seek to have these priorities signed into law."
Sen. Heinrich: "The number one issue for sportsmen across the country is access. This widely supported, bipartisan bill will open more areas to hunting and fishing and grow America's thriving outdoor recreation economy. Hunting and fishing are a way of life for millions of Americans - especially in New Mexico where outdoor recreation as a whole is directly responsible for 68,000 jobs. Sportsmen have a deep connection to the outdoors and benefit from the recreation, wildlife, and water that our public lands provide and I remain deeply committed to conserving these treasured places for our children and all future generations to enjoy."
Sen. Risch: "With more than half-a-million sportsmen and women in Idaho alone, this legislation will ensure they can continue to access their favorite hunting or fishing spot. This year, I am confident we can get the Sportsmen's Act to the White House."
Sen. Manchin: "As an avid sportsman, I know firsthand that our hunting and fishing heritage is so important to who we are as West Virginians and as Americans. This bipartisan bill will boost West Virginia's economy while expanding hunting and fishing rights and allowing people a greater ability to enjoy the outdoors. I truly believe that people in the Mountain State and across this nation should be able to enjoy hunting and recreational shooting and have the ability to go out and enjoy the outdoors. We should protect these traditions that help define who we are and I'm proud to join my colleagues to introduce this important piece of legislation."
S. 733 is expected to be marked up in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday, March 30.
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