Sportsmen Applaud Introduction of New Hunting & Fishing Bill
The Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance is proud to support the newly introduced Sportsmen’s and Public Outdoor Recreation Traditions Act, or SPORT Act. The bill was introduced by Sportsmen’s Caucus co-chair Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina. The SPORT Act is a package of bipartisan bills that will strengthen hunting and fishing across America through conservation, enhanced access to public lands, and easing restrictions that prevent Americans from enjoying the outdoors.
Some highlights of the SPORT Act include legislation originally crafted by the Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance. The Target Shooting and Marksmanship Training Support Act would allow states to use money generated from the sale of firearms and ammunition to provide enhanced public shooting opportunities. The Bows in National Parks would allow bowhunters to cross National Park Service lands with their archery equipment in order to access hunting opportunities on federal public lands. Currently, the National Park Service allows firearms to be carried across its parks, but not archery equipment.
Important conservation legislation included in the package is the North American Wetlands Conservation Act reauthorization. NAWCA is a voluntary program that uses federal incentives to create match funding for wetlands conservation. Every federal dollar spent on NAWCA projects typically is matched by at least three dollars of match funding from states and private enterprises. The SPORT Act would also exempt conservation trust funds from sequestration. The Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund (Pittman-Robertson) and Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Safety Trust Fund (Dingell-Johnson) are vital to funding on the ground conservation efforts by state wildlife agencies. Despite being financed by a small fee paid by the purchasers of outdoor and boating equipment, these important funds were still subjected to sequestration.
Access to public lands is another critical component of the SPORT Act. Several important pieces of legislation for sportsmen’s access to hunting and fishing have been collected under the umbrella of this package. The Making Public Lands Public Act would require that 1.5 percent of funds generated for the Land and Water Conservation Fund be set aside to secure access to difficult to access public lands for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation. The Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage Opportunities Act will direct federal land management agencies to facilitate hunting and fishing on federal lands and ensure sound management of fish and wildlife populations on those lands. The reauthorization of the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act would ensure that at least 80 percent of the funds from the sale of federal lands be used to acquire high priority lands. Finally, provisions from the Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures Act would improve access to public lands by directing federal agencies to inventory lands in their systems to determine which public lands have little or no public access. The agencies would then be directed to develop a plan for providing access for lands that have been determined to have a high potential for recreational use.
“We look forward to helping Senator Hagan and the Sportsmen’s Caucus advance this legislation through the Senate,” said Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance director Gaspar Perricone. “We’re proud to have helped craft this important bill that can help solidify the future of hunting and fishing in America.”
Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance Pleased with Interior’s Conservation Vision
Washington, DC—The Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance is proud to support the conservation agenda set forth by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in a speech at the National Press Club yesterday, October 31st. Secretary Jewell addressed a packed house of reporters, Department of the Interior employees, and representatives from throughout the conservation community. She highlighted the importance of many of the issues facing sportsmen today, from how the government shutdown affected hunters on public lands to establishing the next generation of conservation leaders.
The Secretary also called for full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Despite nearing the fifty-year anniversary of its original creation, the LWCF has only been fully funded once. Because the revenues that make up the LWCF come from royalties paid by offshore oil and gas drillers, LWCF does not cost American taxpayers a single dime. However, projects aimed at securing access to the outdoors have been funded by LWCF in nearly every county in every state across the country.
“We were happy to hear that the administration is still so supportive of LWCF,” said Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance Director Gaspar Perricone. “Fully funding LWCF is one of the easiest ways to increase access to quality hunting and fishing opportunities for sportsmen across the country. We stand with Secretary Jewell in calling for this fund to receive the allocations that were intended when the law was passed almost fifty years ago.”
Secretary Jewell also highlighted the administration’s goal of approving 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy being produced on federal public lands. With plans for all kinds of energy development, both renewable and non-renewable however, the Secretary insisted upon a balanced approach that protects the most valuable and most cherished of our public lands. Highlighting this approach, she also announced her first Secretarial Order. This order will ensure that as development moves forward on DOI lands, proper mitigation is considered and accomplished on a landscape level.
“Sportsmen have been talking about a balanced approach to energy development on public lands longer than just about anyone,” said Perricone. “Without proper mitigation on a landscape level and the opportunities it will protect, a huge economic engine that is driven by hunters and anglers could begin to sputter. Understanding how development impacts wildlife and habitat beyond a localized area is critical to the future of hunting and fishing on public lands.”
Sportsmen Urge EPA to Step Up Clean Water Protections
Several sportsmen’s groups, including the Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance, have signed a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency that offers recommendations on the EPA’s draft report on wetlands connectivity. The final report could play a huge role in determining protections for wetlands under the Clean Water Act. “We have to get this right,” said BMSA director Gaspar Perricone.
The report, titled “Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence,” considers more than a thousand peer-reviewed scientific publications on wetlands and headwater streams. The organizations that have signed the letter to the EPA commend the draft report’s conclusions on the connectivity of wetlands and streams to the health of downstream waters. The letter praises the report’s recognition that “the watershed scale is the appropriate context” for considering the connectivity of the small wetlands and streams that are so important for wildlife and sportsmen.
The letter does ask the EPA to further consider the connectivity of what are known as unidirectional wetlands. The best-known examples of this type of wetland are the prairie potholes, the breeding grounds for the majority of the ducks in North America. Wetlands in the prairie pothole region are being lost at an incredible rate, which is bad news for hunters, birders, and conservationists.
In the last ten years, two Supreme Court cases have weakened Clean Water Act protections of some wetlands and headwater streams. Administrative rule making could restore some of those protections and this EPA report determining the connectivity of wetlands can go a long way toward deciding what waters are protected. “This report is so important because it could have a huge role in determining how we protect wetlands that are critical for wildlife and sportsmen,” said Perricone. “Sportsmen are at the center of a huge economic engine, but we rely on clean water protections for critical habitat to sustain that economic boost. The science on this issue hasn’t changed; it’s time to restore the protections to these important wetlands and streams.”
To read the letter and a list of signers, click here.
Government shutdown devastates $144 billion wildlife recreation economy
The Hill – By Gaspar Perricone
October 12, 2013, 01:00 pm
Government inaction is causing huge economic losses for our rural economies. The country’s wildlife-related recreation economy, which includes hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching, was estimated in 2011 at $144 billion by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In Colorado, that figure was $3 million.
Rural communities depend on the dollars that sportsmen bring each fall, and commercial hunting guides are being deprived of income during their peak earning period – akin to Christmas for retailers. This is not merely a delay — it is a loss of real income that these communities and small business owners will never get back. The closing of more than 329 National Wildlife Refuges such as the Alamosa, Arapaho, and Baca refuges for hunting and 271 for fishing also halts critical habitat protection efforts by volunteers and ongoing research.
This is only the latest congressional slight to sportsmen and habitat conservation. The current closures compound the cuts proposed by Congress to key programs that fund and conserve wildlife habitat, such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and others. Congress has also failed to reauthorize the Farm Bill, which expired at the end of September. It includes critical elements of national conservation policy and is the largest private lands conservation legislation we have in this country.
Instead of playing politics, policymakers should be collaborating to defend our hunting and fishing traditions, small businesses, and rural economies. Congress’s failure to act is an affront to all of us, but particularly to the 37 million hunters and anglers who pay federal and state taxes, provide $1.5 billion in license revenues, and generate more than $86 billion in retail sales.
Congress and the White House need to end the shutdown, and make habitat and natural resource conservation efforts a priority on par with other uses of our public lands. Any budget agreement must include funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and other vital conservation programs, which provide access for hunters and anglers, bolster wildlife protection, and contribute to a lucrative outdoor recreation economy.
There will be no recovery of lost wages for the small businesses and rural economies that depend on hunting and fishing on America’s public lands for their livelihoods. But perhaps there will be a return of common sense before hunting season ends in less than three months.
In The News
The Best Energy Idea You Have Never Heard Of – Steamboat Today
The Latest Sportsmen Surveys…and What They Mean to Sportsmen – Field & Stream
Secretary Jewell Believes Some Lands Worth Saving – Washington Post