Critical Public Lands Bill Comes to Life
(Washington, DC)– Under newly introduced bill HR 2834, hunting and fishing opportunities will become a priority on more than 440 million acres of federal public lands. The “Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act” was introduced at the U.S. Congress by Reps. Dan Benishek (R-MI) and Dan Boren (D-OK). Co-sponsors of the bill include Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and Mike Kelly (R-PA). The bill is also supported by other key members of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, and the Columbus, Ohio-based U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance.
This landmark measure recognizes that recreational anglers, hunters (including trapping) and shooters have been, and continue to be, the foremost supporters and funders of sound fish and wildlife management and conservation in the United States. The bill further highlights that hunting, fishing and recreational shooting occurs on Federal public lands and waters without adverse impacts or effects on other uses or users. Bill 2834’s wording follows the 1997 National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, a bill that designated fishing and hunting as priority public uses on refuge lands in the U.S. The Refuge Act has curtailed attempts by anti-hunting groups to stop hunting on some public lands where hunting has traditionally occurred.
“The USSA has strongly encouraged such legislation for over a decade to spell out in law that fishing and hunting on federal public lands must be protected from the rising animal rights lobby,” said Bill Horn, former Assistant Secretary of Interior and USSA’s director of federal affairs. “This bill will provide needed protection for years to come.”
If enacted, the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act will specify that federal public land management officials shall exercise their authority under existing law, including provisions regarding land-use planning, to encourage the use of and access to federal public lands and waters for fishing, hunting, and recreational shooting. Going forward, all management plans would include provisions for those popular practices.
The new bill will include lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, including lands designated wilderness or administratively classified as wilderness eligible or suitable, and primitive or semi-primitive areas. National parks, however, are excluded from the Act as are wildlife refuges governed by the 1997 Act.
Joining USSA in championing HR 2834 are the American Sportfishing Association, National Rifle Association, Safari Club International, and the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation.
Hunters, anglers, trappers, and shooters across America who use public lands should stay abreast of the developments of this bill and note its positive long-term impact on outdoor heritage recreation on public lands in the future. Contact the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance at 614-888-4868 for more details or visit www.ussportsmen.org.
About the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance:
The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) is a watchdog organization that provides direct lobbying and grassroots coalition support to protect and advance the rights of hunters, trappers, anglers, and scientific wildlife management professionals. The USSA is the only organization exclusively devoted to combating the attacks made on America’s sportsman traditions by anti-hunting and animal rights extremists. This is accomplished through coalition building, ballot issue campaigning and legislative and government relations.