Sens. Murkowski, Heinrich Stand Together in Advancing the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015
U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., today urged their colleagues to support bipartisan legislation that would greatly improve opportunities for hunters, anglers, and outdoors enthusiasts on federal lands. The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 (S. 556) was the subject of a hearing Thursday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
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“For many of us, outdoor activities, including hunting and fishing, are traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. Not only are these activities are important to our culture, but they are also huge contributors to our economy and tax base. I cannot underscore just how important these industries are for Alaska and our nation as a whole,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski said. “It’s my hope that through an open process the Senate can pass bipartisan legislation to improve access and provide new opportunities for Americans to enjoy our federal lands.”
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“Our deep connection to the outdoors is part of the American experience and our heritage in the West. It’s something we learn from our mothers and fathers and pass down to our sons and daughters. The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act will help protect that heritage and ensure it continues for generations to come,” Sen. Martin Heinrich said. “Improving access to public lands and reaffirming our country’s commitment to conservation and habitat programs not only enrich our outdoor traditions, but they also give our economy a boost. Hunters and anglers alone spend more than $613 million per year in New Mexico, and outdoor recreation as a whole is directly responsible for 68,000 jobs in our state.”
Access to public lands is a top priority for American sportsmen and women. The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 includes a broad array of measures to enhance opportunities for hunters, anglers, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts; improve access to public lands; help boost the outdoor recreation economy; and strengthen land conservation.
Among the provisions in the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act :
- Recreational Fishing and Hunting, and Recreational Shooting on Federal Public Lands - protects the public’s right to engage in recreational hunting, fishing and shooting activities on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands.
- Filming on Federal Lands – directs the Agriculture and Interior Departments to issue permits and assess an annual fee of $200 for commercial filming on federal lands for crews of 5 people or fewer and precludes these agencies from charging any additional fee beyond the annual fee.
- Federal Agency Transparency – requires public reporting of fees, awards, and payments provided under the Equal Access to Justice Act, as well as payments from the Judgment Fund for claims against the federal government, along with relevant information pertaining to each case. This report will be available online while protecting the private information of individual litigants.
- Bows Transported through National Parks – authorizes bows and crossbows to be transported on National Park Service lands as long as they are not ready for immediate use and remain inside the vehicle during the time they are transported across National Park Service lands.
- Making Public Lands Public – requires the greater of 1.5 percent or $10 million of annual Land and Water Conservation Funds be made available for improving recreational access to existing federal lands.
- HUNT Act – directs all federal public land management agencies to improve access to high priority federal lands where hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation are permitted.
- Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act Reauthorization (FLTFA) – reauthorizes FLTFA, enabling the Bureau of Land Management to sell public land identified for disposal through the land use planning process and to use the revenue to acquire high-priority in-holdings from winning sellers.