In November, a Texas constitutional amendment will appear on the ballot. A simple majority vote will appropriate the revenues from sales tax on sporting goods equipment to fund state parks and historical sites. Sen. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham and Rep. John Cyrier of Bastrop, with the approval of Governor Abbott, led the Texas Legislature to pass bills calling for the constitutional vote.

Between 1993 and 2017, the state’s sporting goods sales tax has generated between $60 million and $165 million annually for a total of $2.5 billion. During that time, only 40% percent of the funding found its way into the budgets of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department or the Texas Historical Commission as intended. Many citizens incorrectly assumed the taxes they pay on sporting goods were fully allocated to support parks, not realizing that significant portions of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax are diverted to other purposes.

TPWD operates 95 parks and historical sites of its own around the state. The system covers more than 630,000 acres and attracts almost 10 million visitors annually. Its 2019 budget is $86 million, $60 million of which comes from its current share of the sporting goods sales tax. TPWD has been faced with many challenges and needed repairs as a result of severe weather and flooding over the past several years (in the last 10 years, TPWD has experienced more than $100 million in flood damage to park’s facilities around the state), in addition to the expenses required to routinely maintain Texas state parks.

If approved, the amendment would authorize 94% of the revenue to TPWD’s parks and historical sites and 6% to sites under the Texas Historical Commission.

HSC is excited to announce the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act has been introduced today in the U.S. House by Representatives Dingell (D-MI-12) and Fortenberry (R-NE-01). This bipartisan legislation establishes a 21st Century funding model for the proactive conservation of fish and wildlife. This legislation redirects $1.3 billion annually in existing revenues to state fish and wildlife agencies to implement their science-driven wildlife action plans, and an additional $97.5 million to tribal wildlife managers to conserve species on tribal lands and waters. This funding will ensure those with a proven track record of success in species conservation and recovery can proactively conserve at-risk fish and wildlife in a voluntary, non-regulatory manner. 

HSC is a member of the Alliance for America’s Fish & Wildlife and is in support of this piece of critical legislation. 

TAKE ACTION NOW!

Join us in support of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act so that future generations may enjoy the same abundant fish and wildlife, and outdoor recreation opportunities that we have.
Send a letter to your Members of Congress by Clicking Here!   

For additional information:
Legislative Fact Sheet HERE
Bill Changes for the 116th Congress HERE
RAWA Summary HERE

Houston, TX –Houston Safari Club (HSC) was proud to be present on July 8th, 2019, as President Trump provided updates on the administration’s policies to advance environmental protection while promoting economic growth.

President Trump stressed the United States’ successful initiatives in economic growth and energy production with simultaneous advancements in conservation, recreational access of public lands, and the restoration and protection of U.S. land, air, and waters.

Conducted in the east wing of the White House, HSC, represented by Executive Director Joe Betar, attended the conference alongside other leaders in conservation, Cabinet Members and Agency Secretaries. In attendance and providing remarks was U.S. Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, and U.S. Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry. A transcript of President Trump’s remarks may be found here. The President’s full remarks may be viewed here.

OPPOSE THE BUCHANAN AMENDMENT TO H.R. 3055

HSC opposes Rep. Vern Buchanan’s (R-FL) proposed Amendment to H.R. 3055. HR 3055 contains the CJS, Agriculture, and Interior appropriations bills. Rep. Buchanan’s amendment would ban funds to issue permits for the import of sport-hunted elephants or lions from Tanzania, Zimbabwe or Zambia. The amendment was approved by the House the week of June 17th.  HSC encourages you to express any opposition to this Amendment to your Congressman and/or Senator. To contact your Representative: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative; To contact your Senator: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.

CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE

HSC joined 37 other hunting, fishing, wildlife conservation, and outdoor-recreation-based organizations urging Congress to help address Chronic Wasting Disease. Specifically, HSC requests that Congress advance the following bills out of Committee: 1. H.R. 837 the Chronic Wasting Disease Transmission in Cervidae Study Act, sponsored by Representatives Ralph Abraham (LA) and Marc Veasey (TX). H.R. 837 would help address the issue of a lack of reliable information surrounding CWD. This bill would direct the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on CWD which will build upon and synthesize prior research on transmission pathways and management strategies. 2. H.R. 1550 the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Act, sponsored by Representatives Ron Kind (WI) and Jim Sensenbrenner (WI). This bill would provide much needed financial resources to state and tribal agencies to enhance surveillance and monitoring efforts, develop and implement management strategies and control methods, and provide funding for additional research on CWD. View the full letter HERE.

SAVES ACT

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is planning on reintroducing the SAVES Act (S. 2778). This legislation would amend the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 to include a prohibition on the listing of a living nonnative species as a threatened species or an endangered species, and for other purposes. The Act would prohibit listing a species under the ESA in the United States simply because it was threatened in its country of origin. Such a listing would place exotic species, that may be thriving in the U.S., under the ESA should they be considered threatened or endangered in their native country. To learn more: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/2778/text?r=19&s=1. To voice your support for the SAVES Act: https://www.cruz.senate.gov/?p=form&id=16.

RECOVERING AMERICA’S WILDLIFE ACT (RAWA)

States are currently funded at less than 5% of what they need to effectively implement their Wildlife Action Plans. Voice your support to your Congressmen and Senators! RAWA seeks to address these funding challenges and provide a new model for state wildlife conservation funding. RAWA would provide $1.3 billion nationally to state-based conservation, and $97.5 million to tribal lands, without any new taxes, to fund conservation efforts for at-risk fish & wildlife across the nation. Learn more at http://www.txwildlifealliance.org/recovering-america-s-wildlife-act.html.

SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS CROW TRIBE’S TREATY-RESERVED OFF-RESERVATION HUNTING RIGHTS

The Supreme Court has ruled that “statehood did not imply termination of reserved hunting rights, establishment of a national forest did not render an area “occupied”” and thus the case of Herrera vs. Wyoming has been settled in favor of Herrera. On Jan. 8, a former game warden for the Crow Tribe of southeastern Montana went before the United States Supreme Court. Clayvin Herrera was convicted by the State of Wyoming of killing a bull elk out of season, without a license in January 2014. Two of his companions, who also shot bulls after following the herd off the Crow Reservation across the state line into the Bighorn National Forest, both pleaded guilty to the same poaching charges and paid fines. Herrera however, has argued all the way to the highest court in the land that the 1868 Second Treaty of Fort Laramie guarantees his tribal “right to hunt on the unoccupied lands of the United States so long as game may be found thereon.”Summary and opinions: https://www.natlawreview.com/article/indian-nations-law-update-june-2019; https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/17-532_q86b.pdf.  

LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION FUND

The House Natural Resources Committee conducted a legislative markup on H.R. 3195, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act. Earlier this year, S. 47 – the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act permanently reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) when it was signed into law. The Making Public Lands Public initiative (MPLP) was included in S. 47. MPLP designates $15 million annually from LWCF for projects that increase public access to landlocked federal public land for sportsmen and women and other recreationists. Recent studies estimate there are nearly 10 million acres of public lands in the west that are open to hunting, fishing, recreational shooting and other outdoor activities, but the general public is currently unable to access these lands for a variety of reasons. Lack of adequate access has been cited as the main reason many people no longer participate in hunting and fishing activities. Learn more: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/3195/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22hr+3195%22%5D%7D&r=1&s=2.

Houston Safari Club (HSC) is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization dedicated to legislative and policy initiatives that may affect the future of hunting. HSC supports initiatives that protect the tradition of hunting and hunters’ rights. We take an active role in efforts to effect policy, protocols and legislation. Our mission is to protect the rights of hunters and the hunting heritage through advocacy, policy and legislation. Houston Safari Club (HSC) is a non-profit organization, exempt from federal income tax, under section 501(c)(4) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. Payments to HSC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Please contact your tax advisor concerning deductibility of any payments as business deductions. HSC EIN: 76-0082197. HSC is an independent organization, is not affiliated with Safari Club International (SCI) or its affiliates and is not a chapter or affiliate of any other organization.

The Connecticut Assembly adjourned sine die for the current session, with a failure to advance Senate Bill 20, which would have blocked importation of elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, and giraffe parts from Africa.

PEBBLE MINE

HSC joined 25 other hunting, fishing, wildlife conservation, and outdoor-recreation-based organizations requesting that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers require from the Pebble Mine (Bristol Bay, Cook Inlet, AK) applicant all the information necessary to reach a fully informed permitting decision and that the ongoing administrative process to consider the Pebble Mine permit application be suspended until this information is received. View the letter HERE

DELISTING OF GRAY WOLVES

The gray wolf has been delisted in the Northern Rocky Mountains. The states of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington have shown their ability to manage this delisted wolf population responsibly so that it remains healthy and sustainable. Populations in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota are healthy, and wolves have begun to expand into northern California and Western Oregon and Washington. In total, the range-wide gray wolf population stands at more than 6,000, exceeding the combined recovery goals for the Northern Rocky Mountains and Western Great Lakes populations. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior are considering removing the gray wolf from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on March 15, 2019. You can provide comments on or before July 15, 2019. All comments will be posted on http://www.regulations.gov. To comment on the proposed rule electronically, please click on the link below. Then click the “Comment Now” button in the upper right hand corner: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FWS-HQ-ES-2018-0097-0001

ROB WALLACE SUPPORT LETTER

HSC joined 35 other hunting, fishing, wildlife conservation, and outdoor-recreation-based organizations to offer support for the nomination of Rob Wallace to be Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior. The Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks oversees the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service, which collectively manage 170 million acres of public lands critical to fish and wildlife habitat, hunting and fishing, and outdoor recreation. In addition, the position oversees complex issues such as migratory bird management, implementation of the Endangered Species Act, and the international trade in wildlife. Rob Wallace is an exemplary nominee for the position of Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. His vast work experience includes senior staff positions in Congress and in the Administration, including Assistant Director of the National Park Service. Rob also served as Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer’s chief of staff and he fundamentally understands the important partnership between the states and the federal government when it comes to managing fish and wildlife, and our nation’s public lands. Rob also has critical experience in the private sector. He oversaw government relations for GE Energy, which gave him important experience in the development of both traditional and clean energy resources. Most recently, as a partner at i2 Capital, Rob has been intimately involved in creating market mechanisms to advance sage grouse conservation in the West. View the full letter HERE

Houston Safari Club (HSC) is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization dedicated to legislative and policy initiatives that may affect the future of hunting. HSC supports initiatives that protect the tradition of hunting and hunters’ rights. We take an active role in efforts to effect policy, protocols and legislation. Our mission is to protect the rights of hunters and the hunting heritage through advocacy, policy and legislation. Houston Safari Club (HSC) is a non-profit organization, exempt from federal income tax, under section 501(c)(4) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. Payments to HSC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Please contact your tax advisor concerning deductibility of any payments as business deductions. HSC EIN: 76-0082197. HSC is an independent organization, is not affiliated with Safari Club International (SCI) or its affiliates and is not a chapter or affiliate of any other organization.

Houston Safari Club (HSC) is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization dedicated to legislative and policy initiatives that may affect the future of hunting. HSC supports initiatives that protect the tradition of hunting and hunters’ rights. We take an active role in efforts to effect policy, protocols and legislation. Our mission is to protect the rights of hunters and the hunting heritage through advocacy, policy and legislation.

CONNECTICUT SENATE BILL 20: AN ACT PROHIBITING THE IMPORT, SALES & POSSESSION OF AFRICAN ELEPHANTS, LIONS, LEOPARDS, BLACK RHINOCEROS, WHITE RHINOCEROS & GIRAFFES

Introduced by Connecticut Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) Senate Bill 20 would ban the import, sale and possession of what Sen. Duff refers to as “the Big Six” African species – African elephants, lions, leopards, black rhinoceros, white rhinoceros and giraffes. This legislation does not consider the positive recovery effects legal hunting has had, from a conservation and financial standpoint, for these species. The legislation will disrupt the enhancement permitting of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and conflicts with and is preempted by Section 6(f) of the Endangered Species Act and CITES that is implemented through the Act. It also violates the Dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In addition, violations of this bill propose a felony charge and fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to 2 years. HSC has joined with Conservation Force, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Dallas Safari Club, and Wildlife Management Institute to petition David Bernhardt, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, to request that Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont veto this bill and if necessary file injunctive suit to enforce the provisions of the ESA and Commerce Clause.

2020 TRANSPORTATION BILL

HSC joined 43 other conservation and outdoor recreation groups in a communication to the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee regarding sportsmen’s issue related to the 2020 Transportation Bill. The letter extended an offer for these groups to work with the Committee on nature-based and natural infrastructure solutions, fish and wildlife crossings and connectivity, stormwater reductions, and resilience opportunities for long-term sustainability and public safety. The correspondence may be viewed at https://houstonsafariclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/2020-Transportation-Bill-conservation-groups-priorities-1.pdf

THE CECIL ACT

House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) introduced the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act, a bill that restricts the importation of any species that have been listed or proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This bill would amend the ESA to treat species proposed to be listed as threatened or endangered as though they have already been listed for the purposes of  hunting import licensing, thereby prohibiting unpermitted take or trade of species proposed to be listed; requires that any wildlife imports to the U.S. enhance the conservation of the species; directs the Government Accountability Office to determine whether there is any evidence that trophy hunting in foreign countries contributes to wildlife conservation; recommend reforms for the industry; and terminates the International Wildlife Conservation Council, a Trump administration-created forum for the assessment of international trophy hunting. This proposed legislation is backed by no scientific data and is merely an emotional plea to stop hunting of large animals. The proposed bill may be viewed here: https://houstonsafariclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/CECIL-Act.pdf

NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE SYSTEM BUDGET

HSC joined 24 other hunting, fishing, wildlife conservation, and outdoor-recreation-based organizations in thanking David Bernhardt, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, for requesting $509.5 million for National Wildlife Refuge System Operations and Maintenance to be included in the President’s FY 2020 Budget Request.

The increase of $21.5 million over current enacted levels would be the highest funding level ever for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Sec. Bernhardt has repeatedly demonstrated advocacy to expand access to hunting and fishing on wildlife refuges across the country thus providing increased access to sportsmen and women. This letter may be viewed here: https://houstonsafariclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/NWRS-budget-request-letter.pdf

BOTSWANA HUNTING BAN LIFTED

The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism has announced that the Government of Botswana has lifted its ban on hunting. Findings that led to the removal of the ban included (1) the increased number and high levels of human-elephant conflict and the consequent impact on livelihoods; (2) the increase in the number of predators and predator-related kills of livestock; (3) the negative impact on livelihoods, particularly for community-based organizations that previously benefitted from consumptive utilization; and (4) the lack of capacity and long response times within the Department of Wildlife and National Parks related to animal control reports. The official announcement may be viewed here: https://houstonsafariclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Botswana-Hunting-Ban-Lifted.pdf

Houston Safari Club (HSC) is a non-profit organization, exempt from federal income tax, under section 501(c)(4) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. Payments to HSC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Please contact your tax advisor concerning deductibility of any payments as business deductions. HSC EIN: 76-0082197. HSC is an independent organization, is not affiliated with Safari Club International (SCI) or its affiliates and is not a chapter or affiliate of any other organization.