Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bi-Partisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014

The Bi-partisan Sportsmen's Act incorporates several smaller bills written by both Democrats and Republicans.  This bill expands public access and conserves fish and wildlife habitats.  Among many provisions in the Bill some of the major Titles and their co-sponsors are featured below.

  • Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act of 2013 (S.738)-Lead Sponsor: Senator Wicker 
Authorizes the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to allow any state to provide federal duck stamps electronically. E-duck stamps are valid for 45 days to allow for the physical stamps to arrive in the mail. A pilot program that authorized a limited number of states to issue electronic stamps expired in 2010, although FWS has continued the program under other authorities. Amounts collected from the sale of duck stamps are deposited in the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund and used without further appropriation for waterfowl conservation projects. 

  •  Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act (S.1505)-Lead Sponsor: Senator Thune
Exempts lead fishing tackle from being regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act, leaving the existing authority to State Fish and Game Agencies and the FWS. The EPA has denied petitions to regulate tackle and ammo under TSCA in 1994 and again in 2011. 

  •  Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (S.1212)-Lead Sponsor: Senator Udall (CO) 
Enables states to allocate a greater proportion of federal funding to create and maintain shooting ranges on federal and non-federal lands. States will be allowed to access these funds for longer period of time, and the bill encourages federal land agencies to cooperate with state and local authorities to maintain shooting ranges.

  •  Farmer and Hunter Protection Act-Lead Sponsor: Senator Pryor 
Authorizes USDA extension offices to determine normal agricultural practices rather than the Fish and Wildlife Service.
 In some instances, FWS has interpreted the Migratory Bird Act to treat hunting of migrating birds on rolled rice fields as baiting. Baiting migratory birds with grain is illegal and can result in fines up to $10,000 and the halting of hunting on the grounds considered baited. Normal agricultural practices are not considered baiting. This bill aims to set clear criteria on what constitutes “normal agricultural practices” by having the FWS refer to local USDA extension offices for the determination.

  •  Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage Opportunities Act (S.170)-Lead Sponsor: Senator Murkowski 
Requires federal land managers to consider how management plans affect opportunities to engage in hunting, fishing and recreational shooting. The bill also requires the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service to keep their lands open to hunting, recreational fishing, and shooting, and facilitate the use of and access to federal public lands and waters for these activities.

  •  Permits for Film Crews of Five People or Less-Stand-alone bill hasn’t been introduced in the Senate.
Directs the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to require annual permits and assess annual fees for commercial filming activities on Federal land for film crews of five persons or fewer.

  •  Making Public Lands Public-Stand-alone bill hasn’t been introduced in the Senate.
Requires 1.5% of annual Land and Water Conservation funding be made available to secure fishing, hunting and recreational shooting access on federal public lands.

  •  North American Wetlands Conservation Act Reauthorization (S.741)-Lead Sponsor: Vitter 
Reauthorizes NAWCA through fiscal year 2017. NAWCA provides matching grants to organizations, state and local governments, and private landowners for the acquisition, restoration, and enhancement of wetlands critical to the habitat of migratory birds.

  •  National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Reauthorization (S.51)-Lead Sponsor: Senator Boxer
Reauthorizes the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), a non-profit that preserves and restores native wildlife species and habitats.
 (Summary Courtesy of the US Senate)
A full text and status of the piece of legislation can be found here.

This is an important piece of legislation that needs the support of hunters, anglers, outdoors men and women.  Hopefully it will be brought up in the coming weeks as it will set the stage for the future of hunting and fishing throughout the United States.

Contact your Legislators to let your voice be heard!

-Capitol Outdoors