Sportsmen's Act Clears Major Hurdle
TU press release
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate voted early on Saturday to advance the Sportsmen's Act of 2012 (S. 3525), a broad-based package of legislative measures that promotes public hunting and angling access, habitat conservation and strongly funded resource management. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited and other members of the sportsmen's community commended the decision.
S. 3525 integrates more than 20 bills, including the Making Public Lands Public Access Act, the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act and the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act. If passed, it also would reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.
Following Saturday's procedural vote, the bill now is slated to be first on the calendar when Senate lawmakers reconvene in mid-November. S. 3525 has attracted the support of a range of prominent sportsmen's groups.
"In a Congress marked by partisan conflict and divisiveness, the Senate's support of this sensible and comprehensive package of bills acknowledges the critical role played by responsible natural resources management in the United States," said TRCP President and CEO Whit Fosburgh, "and its emphasis on expanding public access for recreational opportunities — including hunting and angling — confirms the importance of these activities to our nation’s economy."
"These bills are important and diverse in the support they provide natural resource conservation," said Paul Schmidt, Ducks Unlimited's chief conservation officer. "Some of the most important programs for waterfowl, including reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Migratory Bird Habitat Investment and Enhancement Act and the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act, are part of this package."
"The Sportsmen's Act of 2012 is overwhelmingly composed of bipartisan bills," Schmidt added. "It's encouraging to see that people can work across the aisle when it comes to our natural resources. Ducks Unlimited appreciates the work that the sponsors have put into this important legislation."
"The Sportsmen's Act of 2012 represents a balanced and cost-effective approach to addressing both conservation and sportsmen's issues," said Bob Bendick, director of government relations for The Nature Conservancy. "The Conservancy strongly supports this package and the important pieces of legislation contained within such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, one of our nation's most successful conservation laws, and renewed or new authority for other important programs such as the Federal Land Transaction and Facilitation Act and the National Fish Habitat Initiative. As has been the case so many times in the past, sportsmen have been in the forefront of legislation that benefits the land and water so important to all Americans."
Steve Moyer, vice president for government affairs at Trout Unlimited, noted the strong message the Senate is sending to America's anglers and hunters by supporting this bipartisan package of bills.
"The Sportsmen's Act will be a boon for fish and game habitat by reauthorizing the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Fish Habitat Action Plan," Moyer said. "Both of these programs are an essential part of our efforts to build sustainable, on-the-ground partnerships that reconnect and restore coldwater fisheries, directly translating to more and better quality fishing opportunities."
Ron Regan, executive director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, stated, "This bipartisan-sponsored package of significant conservation program authorizations – including the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act, North American Wetlands Conservation Act and Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act - combined with the provisions supporting increased recreational access and hunting and fishing opportunities, addresses critical needs within our nation to conserve and restore fish and wildlife and their habitats through science-based management. This considers the needs of humans as well as those of fish and wildlife. By passing the Sportsmen's Act of 2012, legislators can help ensure healthier fish and wildlife populations and habitat for long-term public benefit and use."
Patterned after a similar suite of bills introduced over the summer by Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and John Thune of South Dakota, S. 3525 was introduced by Tester earlier this month. The initial legislative package, which was presented as an amendment to the Senate Farm Bill, ultimately did not receive a vote despite drawing strong bipartisan support.
"The mission of the TRCP is to guarantee all Americans access to quality places to hunt and fish," said Vaughn Collins, TRCP director of government affairs. "If enacted, the Sportsmen's Act of 2012 not only will improve access on public lands it also will reauthorize important conservation programs that in turn will help maintain healthy habitats for fish and wildlife, thus ensuring quality places for Americans to hunt and fish."