A long-awaited package of provisions for sportsmen’s access and habitat conservation, the Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47) was advanced by the House of Representatives, and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
A number of the provisions within S. 47 are access-oriented priorities of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), and are critical to upland bird hunters.
Introduced in January by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK), S. 47 was passed by the U.S. Senate on an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 92 - 8, and most recently on a strong bipartisan vote of 363 - 62 in the U.S. House – all within the first two months of the 116th Congress.
“The passage of S. 47 marks a historic day for land and water conservation, and public access for sportsmen and women,” said Howard Vincent, president and CEO of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “One glance at the act’s key provisions maker it clear how important this legislation is to our members, many of whom made many phone calls and wrote numerous letters in support.”
Key provisions for pheasant and quail hunters include:
– permanently -- the Land and Water Conservation Fund with 3% or $15 million -- whichever is greater -- of annual appropriations made available for the purpose of securing additional access for hunting, fishing, recreational shooting and other outdoor related activities (Making Public Lands Public Initiative). Recent studies estimate there are nearly 10 million acres of public lands in the West that are open to sporting activities, but the general public is currently unable to access these parcels due to a number of reasons. This provision, along with other provisions in S. 47, will help address this by truly making public lands public.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lands to be open for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting unless specifically closed.
the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program to incentivize landowners who provide habitat for migratory birds and threatened and endangered species.
the National Park Service, BLM, USFS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop strategies for providing access to areas where hunting, fishing, target shooting and other recreation are allowed but cannot be reasonably accessed by the public.
“CSF applauds Congress for passing the Natural Resources Management Act early in the 116th Congress and ensuring that this bill did not fall to political gridlock as it has in past Congresses,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. “S. 47 includes critical provisions to increase public access to hunting, angling, and recreational shooting and is truly a win for sportsmen and women across the country.”
“I am pleased to see this bipartisan legislation that has been a priority for sportsmen and other conservationists for many years pass both chambers of Congress and head to the President’s desk,” said CSC Co-Chair Congressman Austin Scott (GA). “This bill clearly reflects the importance of America’s hunting, fishing, trapping and recreational shooting traditions, and I hope it will serve as a strong foundation for more sportsmen’s legislation to advance in the 116th Congress.”
“Pheasants forever and Quail Forever members should be very happy this bill is on the president’s desk,” concluded Vincent. “Consider this legislation with the recently-passed Farm Bill, and upland hunters have a lot to be happy about.”