NWF applauds bipartisan sportsmen’s legislation introduction
Senate package expands access to public lands, boosts conservation funding
By Bentley Johnson
The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) welcomes the introduction of a bipartisan legislative package in the Senate that would expand and enhance hunting, angling and other outdoor recreation on our public lands and help secure conservation funding for years to come.
The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 introduced February 5 by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, includes many positive wildlife conservation and public access elements. Hunters and anglers know that access and opportunity are as crucial to the future of hunting and fishing as committed funding programs for fish and wildlife.
“We thank Sens. Murkowski and Heinrich for their bipartisan commitment to fish and wildlife conservation and the outdoor traditions we will pass on to future generations. This is a strong start, and we encourage Senate and House colleagues to work together to strengthen its conservation provisions and advance the bill to the President’s desk,” said Collin O’Mara, NWF’s president and CEO.
O’Mara noted that sportsmen and women spend about $90 billion a year on hunting and fishing. The total for all outdoor recreation is about $646 billion. A significant portion is committed by law to wildlife restoration and habitat enhancement activities.
“Investing in conservation is a win for wildlife, hunters, anglers, and the economy,” O’Mara said.
He said NWF acknowledges the following provisions in particular:
Reauthorization of the Federal Land Transaction and Facilitation Act, which, among other things, allows public agencies to work with willing landowners to acquire private land surrounded by public land while creating jobs, revenue and enhanced wildlife habitat.
Reauthorization of North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, both of which leverage public and private funding for fish and wildlife habitat, wetlands, migratory birds and conservation projects. NAWCA has helped protect or restore 25.6 million acres of wetlands during the last two decades while NFWF has leveraged nearly $576 million in federal funds into $2 billion worth of conservation projects.
Provisions to identify and provide hunting and fishing access and opportunities to inaccessible public lands.
KWF Editor’s note: There are some aspects of the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 that includes many items that are not in the sportsmen’s best interest. Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI) has reintroduced his “Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act” (HR 528). As with his bill from the last Congress (which did not pass), this legislation would gut protections for every Wilderness in the nation. Unfortunately, this is probably just the beginning of Congressional attacks on Wilderness.