February 10, 2015 (Houston, TX) – U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) have introduced the Sportsmen’s Act of 2015. The bipartisan legislative package is designed to promote and protect the hunting and fishing heritage of Americans and expand access to hunting and fishing areas across the United States.
The Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 is supported by members of both parties including original co-sponsors U.S. Sens. Jim Risch (R-ID) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), and U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). In addition to enhancing access opportunities to public lands for hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts, the proposed measures address conservation programs and the potential for an expanded outdoor recreation economy. Some areas of note include:
HUNT Act: All federal public land management agencies are directed to identify high-priority federal lands where hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation are permitted but where access is non-existent or significantly restricted, and develop plans to provide access.
Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act: Makes permanent the existing exemption of lead shot from EPA regulation and exempts lead tackle, with regulative authority being assigned to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and state agencies.
Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act: Allows the Secretary of the Interior to authorize import permits of 41 Polar Bears legally harvested in Canada prior to 2008 (when the bear was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act).
Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage Opportunities Act: States that recreational hunting and fishing opportunities will be open on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and/or the US Forest Service unless specifically closed.
North American Wetlands Conservation Act Reauthorization (NAWCA): Reauthorizes NAWCA through 2019, providing matching grants to organizations, state/local governments, and private landowners for the acquisition, restoration, and enhancement of wetlands critical to migratory birds. This program generates three additional dollars for every federal dollar and reduces the annual authorization level from $75 to $50 million.
“Houston Safari Club truly appreciates the efforts and vision of Sens. Murkowski, Heinrich and their colleagues as they work to protect the future of hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation,” states Joe Betar, HSC Executive Director.
The full text of the bill may be viewed at http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/legislation?ID=ba3485d0-b3d5-427a-ba6b-8a707a491706.
About Houston Safari Club
Houston Safari Club (HSC), established in 1972, is a volunteer non-profit organization based in Houston, Texas. Our mission is to preserve the sport of hunting through education, conservation and the protection of hunters’ rights. HSC proudly provides one of the largest scholarship programs of its kind, in conjunction with its charitable arm, the American Conservation and Education Society (ACES). Together, HSC and ACES have provided millions of dollars for conservation, education and sporting rights initiatives worldwide. For more information, please visit our website at houstonsafariclub.org or call 713.623.8844.