Thursday, October 8, 2009

Boren Introduces Fishing, Hunting Heritage Act

Congressman Dan Boren has introduced the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act which he says will greatly enhance the ability of federal land managers to provide, promote, and plan for recreational uses that balance the needs and interests of outdoor enthusiasts.

The bill directs the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to utilize the “multi-use” mandates in their agencies’ respective land management plans to promote sportsmen and sportswomen’s access to forest and public lands.

“I introduced this legislation to preserve the heritage of hunting, fishing and shooting on our Federal public lands. Numerous reports in recent years have demonstrated what sportsmen already know; access to public lands is being closed or constrained due to increased development along boundary lines,” Boren said.
“Nearly 50 million men, women, and youth hunt and fish. Almost half of all hunters use federal lands, and in certain states the federal government owns the only open land available. Millions more engage in target shooting at ranges and informal sites on our public lands. We must protect and enhance sportsmen’s access to federal lands and opportunities to participate in these activities.”

Specifically, the bill requires that all federal public land planners evaluate the effects that management initiatives have on outdoors activities, and provide a clear analysis of how proposed actions would affect these traditional users of federal public lands.

The legislation maintains that an “open until closed” approach is best. This would require that lands which are currently open to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting remain open unless reasonable closures are determined to be necessary after proper notification to the public and to Congress has been made.

The bill would provide federal land managers with the authority to designate specific areas for recreational shooting.

It also maintains states’ authority to manage fish and wildlife on Federal public lands and preserves the exclusive authority of states to require licenses or permits for sportsmen and sportswomen.

Finally, the Act recognizes the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council and the Sporting Conservation Council as policy advisors to the Administration on issues relevant to wildlife conservation and sportsmen’s communities.

Nothing in the bill will open lands to hunting, fishing, or recreational shooting that by law or regulation are presently closed or require that a federal agency give preference to hunting, fishing, or shooting over other uses of Federal public land or water management priorities.
The bill was introduced with 25 co-sponsorships by other Members of Congress including the entire leadership of House Congressional Sportsmen Caucus of which Boren is Co-Chairman. Since that time, 14 co-sponsors have been added for a total of 39.


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