Sportsmen’s Bill Advances in Senate

Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act includes measures funding conservation, access; hunters and anglers applaud committee vote, thank Senate leaders

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

Washington, DC -( This morning, a Senate committee voted to advance a comprehensive package of sportsman and conservation focused bills, S.556, the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015, an action roundly praised by hunting, angling and shooting groups that have championed the legislation as well as similar measures for years.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers commended the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s vote in favor of the bill, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate in February 2015 by Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Martin Heinrich along with leaders of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and numerous bipartisan cosponsors.

“Both conservation – responsibly managing important lands and waters – and access – our ability to access them – are priority issues for sportsmen,” said BHA President and CEO Land Tawney. “The legislation advanced in the Senate today would fund conservation programs that enhance fish and wildlife habitat but also secure public access for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation – both to new areas as well as existing ‘landlocked’ public lands.”

Highlights of the Senate bill include the HUNT Act, which identifies and plans for opening access to public lands currently off limits, and permanent reauthorization of the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act. Notably, it also includes new language on the Land and Water Conservation Fund that would dedicate a percentage of LWCF monies to securing public access to existing federal lands and permanently reauthorize the 50-year-old conservation program, which expired in September.

BHA members in Alaska offered thanks to Sen. Murkowski for her support of the legislative package.

“Alaskans are an outdoor people. Activities like hunting and fishing define us, our families and our communities,” said Barry Whitehill, a leader of BHA’s Alaska chapter and a Fairbanks resident. “On behalf of Alaskans, therefore, I’m pleased to thank Committee Chair Murkowski for her determined effort to advance legislation that speaks to the values of residents of our state. The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act represents years of action by sportsmen in Alaska and across the country, and we look forward to its passage.”

“For years, hunters and anglers have supported and called for comprehensive legislation that addresses our interests and values,” Tawney concluded. “The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 answers that call, and we appreciate the committee’s commitment to advancing this landmark measure.”

Read more from BHA and other sportsmen’s groups on today’s vote.

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