June 2012 Issue – Sportsmen’s Beat

 

In this Issue:

  • Sportsmen Win Big on Farm Bill Amendment 
  • Congress Continues Debate on Transportation Bill
  • Colorado Sportsmen’s License Plate Bill Signed by Governor
  • EPA Releases Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment

Sportsmen Win Big With Farm Bill Amendment

Senators Jon Tester (MT) and John Thune (SD), co-chairs of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus have introduced the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 as an amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill. This bill is a package that addresses numerous priorities for hunters, shooters, and anglers across the nation. Senator Tester noted that, “This common sense legislation combines the best ideas from Republicans and Democrats to ensure that the best places to hunt and fish are available to sportsmen and women.”

The bill includes a Making Public Lands Public provision, reauthorizations for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Duck Stamp Act, as well some of the provisions passed last month by the House of Representatives as the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012. The bill also includes the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act and a provision clarifying that bows may be transported across national parks to access hunting opportunities on other public lands, both measures that have long been championed by the Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance. “I am pleased that this amendment significantly advances the cause of making public lands more accessible for multiple uses including hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation,” said Senator Thune.

Some of the highlights of the amendment are:

Making Public Lands Public: Would require that 1.5% of annual Land and Water Conservation Fund funding would be directed to securing access to public lands for hunters and anglers.

Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act: Would make portions of excise taxes on sporting goods available to states for the creation and maintenance of shooting ranges on public lands.

Bows in National Parks Provision: Would clarify 2007 legislation that allowed hunters to carry firearms across national parks to access other public lands so that it is clear that bows may also be carried across national parks to access these hunting opportunities.

National Fish Habitat Conservation Act: Would create a grant program seeking to protect and restore fish habitat across the country by emphasizing partnerships to protect waterways.

North American Wetlands Conservation Act: Would reauthorize this crucial legislation for another five years. NAWCA leverages public dollars to secure private matching, or exceeding, dollars to form partnerships in wetland habitat conservation. Over the past 20 years, NAWCA partnerships have conserved more than 26 million acres of wetlands.

Migratory Bird Habitat and Investment and Enhancement Act: Would allow the Secretary of the Interior to set the amount of money collected by the sale of duck stamps and increase the purchasing power of the critical conservation tool.

For a complete list of the provisions of the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012, click

HERE (http://www.sportsmenslink.org/sites/sportsmenslink.org/files/Descriptions–The%20Sportsmen%27s%20Act%20of%202012%206%207%2012.pdf).

Please CONTACT YOUR SENATORS (http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm) and ask them to support the Sportsmen’s Act amendment (AMDT 2232) to the 2012 Farm Bill.

Congress Continues Debate on Transportation Bill

Important natural resource conservation measures included in the Senate Transportation bill last March, namely the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the RESTORE Act, are still being considered by the Transportation Conference Committee. A version of the RESTORE Act, which would dedicate Clean Water Act fines paid by BP for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to Gulf coast states for ecological restoration, was included in both Transportation bills and is likely to be included in a final bill that comes out of conference. This win for hunters and anglers will help restore the largest coastal wetland in the country and provide habitat for all manner of fish and game, providing opportunity to sportsmen from across the nation to continue to visit the Gulf to sample the world famous hunting and fishing available there.

The future of the latest Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) authorization and appropriation, found in the Senate bill, is not so clear. The House bill removed the authorization and funding for LWCF and the prospects in conference are not as bright as for the RESTORE Act provisions. Despite the successes and benefits of LWCF projects across the nation coming at zero cost to taxpayers, the program may not make it into the final Transportation bill. House critics of LWCF point out that the outer continental shelf drilling revenues that fund the LWCF could be used to provide savings elsewhere in the bill. Sportsmen across the country, especially those represented by conference committee members, need to let their elected officials know that they expect the Land and Water Conservation Fund authorization and appropriation to be incl uded in the final Transportation bill. For more information about LWCF, visit the LWCF coalition at http://www.lwcfcoalition.org/files/LWCF%20Transportation%20factsheet(2).pdf.

Colorado Sportsmen’s License Plate Bill Signed by Governor

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has signed HB-1275, creating a special license plate for hunters and anglers in Colorado to proudly display on their vehicles. The bill, sponsored by state Senator Jean White and state Rep. Sal Pace, will raise money to protect and restore fish habitat, as well as shooting ranges, in Colorado. The Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance has championed this bill since its inception and co-director Gaspar Perricone was there when Gov. Hickenlooper signed the bill at a shooting range in Glenwood Springs. “Colorado has a long and storied outdoor heritage and we are proud to display our passion so we can improve the future opportunities for the next generation of hunters and anglers,” noted Perricone.

To read more click here

EPA Releases Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment

The Environmental Protection Agency has released its historic scientific assessment of Bristol Bay, Alaska and its watershed. Sportsmen’s conservation groups from across the spectrum have united in support of this assessment and vowed to protect the region from the proposed Pebble Mine. This mine would be the largest open pit mine in North America and could potentially damage the largest sockeye salmon run in the world.

The EPA’s assessment concludes:
The commercial fishery and other natural resource-related industries around Bristol Bay provide at least 14,000 full and part-time jobs, while contributing $480 million to the economy every year.
Even at its smallest possible size, Pebble Mine would eradicate dozens of miles of salmon streams and thousands of acres of wetlands.
Evidence from other large mines suggest that “at least one or more accidents of failures could occur, potentially resulting in immediate, severe impacts on salmon and detrimental, long-term impacts on salmon habitat.”

The Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance is one of the more than five hundred hunting and angling groups from across the country that signed a letter asking EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to use her jurisdiction from section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to veto the Pebble Mine project. Sportsmen across the country can add their voices to the movement to save Bristol Bay by commenting on the EPA’s watershed assessment and voicing their support for a section 404(c) veto. The assessment can be found at http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/ecocomm.nsf/bristol+bay/bristolbay.

Comments can be made at Trout Unlimited’s website at
http://www.capwiz.com/savebristolbay/issues/alert/?alertid=61299246&type=ML.

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