Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act Takes a Major Step Forward
Broad package of legislative priorities for anglers and hunters advances in the Senate
November 1, 2015
Alexandria, VA – November 19, 2015 – The sportfishing industry applauds the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for advancing a major portion of the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 during today’s committee markup hearing.
Originally sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 contains provisions that will benefit our nation’s sportsmen and women by providing increased access to our public lands and waters and improving fish and wildlife management.
“For those of us in the recreational fishing community who have been increasingly worried that yet another session of Congress will pass without paying meaningful attention to addressing sportsmen’s issues, the Senate action today is a welcome sign of encouragement,” said Scott Gudes, vice president of Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “We applaud the leadership of Chair Murkowski and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) for advancing the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 which addresses many immediate and long-term needs of anglers and hunters.”
Gudes noted the following provisions approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that are of particular interest to the recreational fishing community:
Provide a clear congressional declaration of policy for all federal agencies to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of recreational fishing, hunting and recreational shooting opportunities on federal lands in accordance with their missions.
Establish a national “open unless closed” standard for federal lands with regard to fishing and hunting access.
Require agency justifications for proposed public access closures, and limit temporary closures to no more than 180 days.
“We also recognize and appreciate the efforts of Sens. Stabenow (D-Mich.), Franken (D-Minn.) and Portman (R-Ohio) to offer an amendment that recognizes the significant threat that Asian Carp poses to the Great Lakes fisheries,” said Gudes. “Similarly, we thank Sen. Cassidy (R-La.) for offering language to ensure that state fisheries agencies are included in decisions by the National Park Service and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries to close marine waters to recreational fishing.”
“It’s our hope and expectation that these two vitally important issues will ultimately be addressed in the final version of the Sportsmen’s Act that is signed into law,” noted Gudes.
On October 8, the House Natural Resources Committee passed companion Sportsmen’s Act legislation that now awaits action on the House floor. In the Senate, the Sportsmen’s Act has been split between two committees, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Gudes concluded, “We now look to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to act swiftly to take up its portion of the Sportsmen’s Act. With the Congressional calendar quickly filling up and the 2016 Presidential election fast approaching, immediate action is needed to ensure that this broadly supported bipartisan legislation is enacted to the benefit of sportsmen and women and the nation as a whole.”