The United States Senate Energy Committee passed bipartisan sportsmen’s legislation which reauthorizes important conservation programs, improves access to federal lands and helps to boost the outdoor recreation economy.
“Hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation activities are an important part of our state’s culture and economy,” said U.S. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), a member of the Senate Energy Committee. “The Sportsmen’s Act will help improve opportunities for our sportsmen and women, while also helping to grow this important sector of our economy.”
Hoeven has been a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus since January 2011.
U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) helped introduce the bill, which passed in the committee by a voice vote. The Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 builds on last year’s bipartisan legislation, which had 46 cosponsors and more than 40 groups supporting. The bill strengthens all of last year’s provisions plus some additional provisions that increase access to federal lands for the benefit of sportsmen and women.
“Hunting and fishing are at the heart of what makes North Dakota’s outdoor spaces so special. Our bipartisan bill would expand opportunities for North Dakota hunters and anglers, while also preserving our vast and beautiful outdoor spaces for generations of sportsmen to come.” said Heitkamp, vice-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. “Millions across our country enjoy outdoor recreation in North Dakota and beyond every year, and I’ll keep working to make sure the outdoors are accessible and well taken care of into the future.”
This past March, at a Senate Energy Committee hearing, the senator stressed the economic benefits of the sportsmen’s legislation, which would increase access to hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation opportunities. Jeffrey Crane, President of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, testified that the U.S. outdoor recreation industry has a collective annual economic impact of $90 billion currently, and if this legislation passes that should increase.
The Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 contains a range of provisions including:
· The Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage Opportunities Act, which protects the public’s right to recreational hunting, fishing and shooting on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands.
· Bows Transported through National Parks provision to prevent the National Park Service from restricting the lawful transport of bows and crossbows through national parks. Currently, firearms can be transported through national parks, but not bows.
· The HUNT Act, which directs all federal public land management agencies to improve access to high priority federal lands where hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation are permitted.
· The Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, which helps states build and maintain shooting ranges on federal lands.