New Legislation to Protect Hunting on Federal Land

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Two bills introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R- AK) and U.S. Representative Dan Boren (D- OK) will protect recreational hunting, fishing and shooting on land administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service.

Backed by the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance (USSA), HR 3749 and the Senate legislation are companion bills collectively known as the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act. They will prevent situations from emerging where public land is closed arbitrarily for hunting, fishing and shooting, mandating that such closures be done through a reasonable and transparent process.

Specifically, both bills would ensure that:

  • * Federal public land managers with the U.S. Forest Service and BLM provide for the use of and access to public lands for hunting, fishing and shooting,
  • * An "open until closed" policy is established for the lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the BLM unless public and Congressional notification is given,
  • * Land managers are urged to lease land for shooting ranges by having the lessee offer suitable assurances to remediate leased lands at the termination of the lease, thus remedying concerns expressed in the past by the BLM over damage to land used for shooting,
  • * Skilled volunteers be used on federal public lands not open to hunting when wildlife management requires the culling of animal populations,
  • * Congress receives an annual report detailing any closures of land to fishing, hunting, or shooting and the reasons for the closures.

"Both bills will guarantee that access for America's sportsmen to prime public land won't arbitrarily be denied," states USSA President and CEO, Bud Pidgeon. "The USSA wholeheartedly supports these bills and urges sportsmen everywhere to contact you members of Congress and urge them to sign on."

Cosponsors of the Senate legislation are Senators Mike Crapo (R- ID) and Ben Nelson (D- NE).

Cosponsors of HR 3749 are Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R- TN), Kevin Brady (R- TX), Ginny Brown-Waite (R- FL), Paul C. Broun (R- GA), Dan Burton (R- IN), Bill Cassidy (R- LA), Kathleen Dahlkemper (D- PA), John D. Dingell (D- MI), Brad Ellsworth (D- IN), Ron Kind (D- WI), Larry Kissell (D- NC), John Kline (R- MN), Donald Manzullo (R- IL), Thaddeus G. McCotter (R- MI), Jeff Miller (R- FL), Thomas Perriello (D- VA), Ciro D. Rodriguez (D- TX), Mike Rogers (R- AL), Mike Ross (D- AR), Paul Ryan (R- WI), James F. Sensenbrenner Jr. (R- WI), Heath Shuler (D- NC), Bill Shuster (R- PA), Michael K. Simpson (R- ID) and Zach Wamp (R- TN).

Other organizations supporting both bills include the National Rifle Association, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, American Sportfishing Association, and Safari Club International.

The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance is a national association of sportsmen and sportsmen's organizations that protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs. For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit its website, www.ussportsmen.org.