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Policy Corner Brief: APRIL 2022

Policy Corner Brief: APRIL 2022

Policy Corner Brief: APRIL 2022

STORY BY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY

Policy Corner Brief: APRIL 2022

STORY BY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY
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MAPLand Act Clears Senate, Heads to President’s Desk to Be Signed into Law

Posted on Monday, April 11, 2022

  • Last week, the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land Act (MAPLand) Act passed the Senate under unanimous consent, a sign of the strong bipartisan support for this important legislation, sending the bill to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
  • H.R. 3113, the MAPLand Act, was introduced in a bipartisan fashion by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Rep. Blake Moore (UT) and Reps. Russ Fulcher (ID), Joe Neguse (CO), and Kim Schrier (WA).
  • The Senate companion bill, S. 904, was introduced and championed by CSC past Co-Chair Sen. Jim Risch (ID), CSC Leaders Sen. Heinrich and Manchin.
  • The MAPLand Act will help provide more certainty and access to critical public land information for America’s 55 million sportsmen and women and other outdoor recreationalists.

Why it matters:  Digital mapping and GPS technologies have fundamentally changed how sportsmen and women traverse federal lands. However, inconsistent, and outdated record keeping practices amongst federal land management agencies hinders the ability of sportsmen and women to fully take advantage of these technologies, which will be addressed in part by the MAPLand Act. The Congressional passage of the MAPLAND is significant win for America’s sportsmen and women.

Last week, the Senate voted to pass the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land Act under unanimous consent, setting the bill up to be signed into law by President Biden.

For the last few years, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and partners, including the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, have been strongly advocating for the passage of the MAPLand Act. CSF has sent numerous action alerts to Members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus urging them to vote in favor of the MAPLand Act and coordinated with the bill leads to move this important legislation forward.

Millions of America’s hunters, anglers, trappers, and recreational shooters rely on public lands and waters for recreation. Before planning a trip to a new area, any sportsman or woman can attest to the fact they spend countless hours glossing over maps on their computers or their handheld devices to get a better idea of the water or landscape. However, a lack of clear and publicly available information often deters sportsmen and women from recreating on a given piece of public land.

Furthermore, for many land management agencies much of their mapping information is still held in paper format, which is concerning, as easements and rights-of-way information could be lost in perpetuity if proper documentation is lost or destroyed. Estimates indicate that the U.S. Forest Service has only digitized roughly 5,000 of their 37,000 recorded easements. Unfortunately, federal land management agencies most important to sportsmen and women, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Forest Service, lack the necessary financial resources to digitize and modernize mapping information for the lands they manage.

To address these challenges, the MAPLand Act will authorize much needed financial resources over three years for the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and Army to accelerate the modernization and digitization of public land mapping information. The MAPLand Act also requires that public land management agencies make their information publicly available on their respective websites to be easily accessible by the public

The MAPLand Act now awaits to be signed into law by President Biden.

 

Lead Ammunition Ban on the Move in New York

Posted on Monday, April 11, 2022

Contact: Joe Mullin, Northeastern States Manager

  • On March 30, New York Assembly Bill 5728 (A. 5728) – legislation that would prohibit the use of lead ammunition for hunting on “wildlife management areas, state forests, forest preserves, state parks or any other state-owned land that is open for hunting” as well as “land area contributing surface water to the New York City water supply” – passed the Assembly and was sent to the Senate Committee on Environmental Conservation.
  • Just last year, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter of opposition for this bill’s same-as version in the Senate, as did the New York Sportsmen’s Advisory Council, calling for a swift rejection of this legislation.
  • Wildlife management decisions such as lead ammunition bans must be left under the sound, scientifically based discretion of the state’s fish and wildlife agency and not the legislature.

Why it Matters: The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has opposed legislatively-driven lead ammunition bans in states across the nation for a variety of reasons. Simply put, state fish and wildlife agencies are in the best possible positions to make the necessary decisions and take reactionary measures to ensure the continued conservation of our nation’s fish and wildlife. Therefore, these decisions should and must be left to the discretion of the agencies.

In March of 2021, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted testimony against legislation that would have banned the use of lead ammunition for hunting on “wildlife management areas, state forests, forest preserves, state parks or any other state-owned land that is open for hunting” and “land area contributing surface water to the New York City water supply.” Similarly, the New York Sportsmen’s Advisory Council weighed in by sending a letter of opposition that addressed lead ammunition bans in both the Senate and Assembly. Flash forward to March 30 of this year, A. 5728 has passed the Assembly and was sent to be heard in the Senate Committee on Environmental Conservation.

What sets A. 5728 apart from legislative efforts to ban lead ammunition in other states is that it prohibits its use in the “land area contributing surface water to the New York City water supply.” Despite the claimed risks to human health and safety, it is reported that an individual would have to eat a “blood-shot burger frequently to maintain enough metallic lead in your digestive system for these fragments to be a dangerous source of lead poisoning.” It therefore stands to reason that if directly consuming game meat shot with lead bullets has been proven to not have any such adverse effects, there is no cause for concern that lead bullets would somehow cause human health concerns in the state’s water supply.

Another concern is the availability and prices of ammunition. Generally, nontraditional ammunition is significantly more expensive than lead shot and is not nearly as readily available for purchase as traditional ammunition. From a cost standpoint, a ban on lead ammunition would require hunters to purchase exorbitantly more expensive nontraditional ammunition, which serves as a disincentive to active hunters and a barrier to entry for novice sportsmen and women across the state.

CSF will continue to oppose this lead ammunition ban and other misguided legislatively driven efforts as they arise. Additional updates will be provided as they are made available.

 

Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund Awaits Governor’s Signature

Posted on Monday, April 11, 2022

Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator

  • During the 2022 legislative session, multiple dedicated conservation funding bills were introduced by Mississippi Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) members. Representative Trey Lamar introduced House Bill 606, Caucus Co-Chair and National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council Member Representative Scott Bounds introduced House Bill 1064, and Caucus Co-Chair Senator Neil Whaley introduced Senate Bill 2495 to establish the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund (Fund) to support fish and wildlife conservation initiatives in the state.
  • On March 2, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) along with numerous partners, submitted comments in support of establishing the Fund.
  • HB 606 and HB 1064 originally aimed to dedicate a portion of the state’s pre-existing sales tax on outdoor sporting goods to the Fund, while SB 2495 aimed to appropriate monies from the State General Fund to the Fund.
  • On April 5, HB 606 was amended to remove the sales tax diversion and passed out of conference. Subsequently, Senate Bill 2780, an appropriations bill, was amended in conference to include a $10 million dollar appropriation to the Fund from the State General Fund for FY 2023.

Why It Matters: With the passage of HB 606 and SB 2780 and pending the signature of Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Tate Reeves, Mississippi will have additional dollars to qualify for federal conservation programs to benefit Mississippi’s fish and wildlife resources along with it hunters and anglers. For example, Mississippi could leverage these funds for habitat work through Farm Bill programs that provide $6 billion annually for conservation work on private lands across the country. Additional funding is also available through Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Acts that match dollars at a 3:1 ratio.

Dedicated conservation funding has been a priority for the Caucus over the past year. Last year Representative Scott Bounds introduced legislation to establish the Fund. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 117-2 but ultimately died in conference. Dedicated conservation funding was also front and center during the Caucus Sporting Clays Classic in November of 2021 and the Annual Caucus Fish-Fry in February of 2022.

While the diversion of sales tax revenue from outdoor sporting goods sales would have allowed the Fund to be self-sustainable and not reliant on annual appropriations made by the legislature, the $10 million dollar appropriation made to the Fund will provide a funding boost for projects. These projects will benefit wildlife and their habitats, which will also benefit recreational opportunities and public access for sportsmen and women in the Magnolia State.

Funding for projects by the Fund will be determined by a Board of Trustees. Counties, municipalities, state agencies, and nongovernmental entities will apply to the Board and detail the proposed project as well as how much funding would be required. The Board would then prioritize projects that support and promote hunting, fishing, and other forms of outdoor recreation.

CSF applauds the work of Representative Scott BoundsRepresentative Trey Lamar, Chairman of the House Committee on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Representative Bill Kinkade, Senator Neil Whaley, and numerous other Caucus members in establishing the Fund and will continue to coordinate with in-state and national partners to encourage Governor Reeves to sign HB 606 and SB 2780 into law.

 

Challenges for Public Lands, Conservation Easements Continue Across Midwest

Posted on Monday, April 04, 2022

Contact: Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • On March 24, Oklahoma HB 3280 passed out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, albeit with a stricken title.
  • OK HB 3280 joins a growing list of bills from across the Midwest that seeks to cap land ownership by the state and federal governments and limit the length of conservation easements established voluntarily on private lands.
  • This growing trend represents a significant challenge for sportsmen and women specifically, and all conservationists in general, who work with federal, state, and private landowners to implement science-based and widely supported conservation efforts that provide critical access.

Why It Matters: Politically charged conversations have increasingly found themselves entering the realm of sportsmen’s issues as they relate to public lands. Some have even begun to spill over into conversations about voluntary conservation programs available for private landowners. While many of these discussions claim to focus on ensuring private lands remain available for the next generation, it is important to remember the role of public lands in supporting local and state economies through outdoor recreation. Further, it is critical that supporters of conservation continue to point out that private land conservation programs, including easements, are entered into voluntarily by informed landowners who should have the ability to make such decisions regarding their lands.

Through House Bill 3280 (HB 3280), Oklahoma joined a growing list of states who have seen efforts to cap the ability of the federal and state government to acquire and own land within the state. HB 3280 seeks to limit federal and state land ownership to no more than 10% of the lands in Oklahoma. Further, the legislation seeks to cap the length of conservation easements on private lands to no more than 30 years. This year alone, similar efforts have cropped up in Iowa and Nebraska, though fortunately neither of those have seen much progress.

Efforts to cap public lands represent a tremendous threat to sportsmen and women, many of whom rely on public lands for access to our time-honored traditions. Not only does this impact the ability of many to participate in the activities that each of us hold dear, but it represents a significant threat to the future of conservation efforts supported through the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding that relies on the participation of sportsmen and women. Further, limited access options pose a challenge for many rural economies that are reliant on tourism revenue driven by outdoor recreation.

While proponents of limiting government land ownership often cite concerns related to topics like eminent domain, it is important to point out that most land acquisitions for conservation and public access are conducted between government entities and willing sellers who cherish the idea of their property being used to support conservation efforts and provide opportunities for other sportsmen and women. The same is often true for conservation easements in which landowners voluntarily work with government agencies, land trusts, or similar parties to develop a conservation program designed to ensure that their properties are protected and conserved for generations, often in exchange for payment, tax credits, or other incentives.

Oklahoma HB 3280 was narrowly passed out of the House on March 24, though its title was stricken. This process in Oklahoma means that, should the bill receive support in the Senate, the bill must be returned to the House to have its title restored before it can be passed and sent to the Governor. Right now, HB 3280 awaits consideration in the Senate.

 

Investing in a Lifetime of Enjoyment, Youth Lifetime License Bill Passes in Kansas

Posted on Monday, April 04, 2022

Contact: Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • After last-minute amendments sent the bill to Conference Committee, Kansas House Bill 2456 (HB 2456) now creates a youth lifetime license option with price brackets for ages 0-5 and 6-7.
  • HB 2456 was introduced by Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Ken Corbet to provide adults with an affordable opportunity to make an investment in the next generation of sportsmen and women.
  • With lifetime price tags of $300 for ages 0-5 and $500 for ages 6-7, the licenses authorized via HB 2456 represent an opportunity to invest in future generations of sportsmen and women while protecting the integrity of the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF).
  • After both chambers approved of the Conference Committee Report on March 31, HB 2456 now awaits approval by Governor Laura Kelly.

Why it Matters: As reported earlier this year, the concept of a lifetime license available for youth represents an opportunity to begin investing in future generations of sportsmen and women. However, all efforts to remove recruitment barriers must also ensure that the future viability of the American System of Conservation Funding is protected. HB 2456 represents a unique attempt to strike this balance that, if successful, could serve as a model for other states.

Just before midnight on March 31, the Kansas House of Representatives voted 93-20 to adopt the Conference Committee Report for Kansas House Bill 2456 (HB 2456). This vote came shortly after the Senate voted unanimously in favor of adopting the report. As reported previously, HB 2456 was introduced by Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Ken Corbet as a way to provide adults with an affordable opportunity to make an investment in the next generation of sportsmen and women.

After working with representatives from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP), HB 2456’s sponsors amended the bill to raise the prices of the license for ages 0-5 from $200 to $300 to minimize the loss of potential future revenue. This was particularly important in Kansas where the KDWP’s wildlife and fisheries efforts are funded solely by sportsmen and women through the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF).  This version was passed by the House in February by a vote of 117-4. However, prior to its first unanimous passage out of the Senate, the legislation was amended to include a second license option for ages 6-12 at a price of $400.

Recognizing the risks that this additional age bracket posed for the ASCF, the House rejected the Senate’s amendments and sent the bill to Conference Committee where the final compromise was negotiated. In its final form, HB 2456 will require KDWP to offer a lifetime combination license for ages 0-5 at a price of $300 while offering a secondary option for ages 6-7 at a price of $500.

Because the effects of this bill on both hunter and angler recruitment and the ASCF are largely unknown, it is important to recognize this effort largely as an experiment. Given the recent boom in hunter and angler participation spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic, HB 2456 represents an attempt to capture this momentum and parlay it into an ongoing investment in the future of the activities that we all hold dear. Only time will tell if this effort will be successful, but the concept is certainly commendable.

 

CSF Mourns Loss of Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Founding Member Rep. Don Young, a Conservation Giant

Posted on Monday, March 21, 2022

This past Friday, March 18, Congressman Don Young (AK), an avid outdoorsman, a master legislator, a conservation legend, and a founding member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, unexpectedly passed away at the age of 88.

Congressman Young, who would more than occasionally remind those around him that he was the Congressman for ALL of Alaska, served Alaska and the United States as a member of Congress for nearly 50 years from 1973 until the time of his passing. In 2017, Congressman Young earned the title of “Dean of the House” in recognition of being the longest serving current member of Congress, a title he held until his passing. Prior to becoming the longest serving Republican in the history of Congress, Congressman Young was a member of the U.S. Army, tugboat captain, trapper, mayor, and a fifth-grade teacher.

During his time in Congress, Congressman Young Chaired the House Natural Resources Committee from 1995 – 2001 and Chaired the House Transportation Committee from 2001 – 2007. Prior to Chairing the Natural Resources Committee and the Transportation Committee, the Dean was a founding member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, which he later Chaired, and served as a leading member until his passing. Without Congressman Young’s foresight and wisdom, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus undoubtedly would not be the powerful, bipartisan consortium it has grown into today.

Throughout his tenure in Congress, Congressman Young’s commitment to sportsmen and women was profound. The Dean championed countless pieces of legislation of importance to sportsmen and women, including the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, Wallop-Breaux Act, sportfishing and recreational boating safety legislation, among other enduring legislative efforts, all of which continue to have a profoundly positive impact on America’s 55 million sportsmen and women.

While the Dean’s Congressional resumé is one of the most impressive in the history of the legislative body, Congressman Young may be best known for his larger-than-life personality. The rare and often unparalleled personality traits of Congressman Young gave him the unique ability to relate to people of all walks of life and an even more uncanny ability to transcend partisan lines to problem solve, advance legislation, and most importantly, develop lifelong friendships. This personality was routinely on display at events hosted by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, including the Congressional Clays Competition, where the Dean could often be found heckling participants for missing a clay target. The personality and charisma of Congressman Young will never be replaced.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is incredibly grateful for the leadership and commitment of the Congressman for ALL of Alaska. While CSF will never be able to fully express our appreciation to the Congressman, he will forever remain in our hearts and minds, especially as we tackle the conservation challenges for America’s sportsmen and women, just as he would have expected.

CSF extends our thoughts and prayers to his beloved wife, Anne, and his family, friends, colleagues, and fellow sportsmen and women.

 

CSF Celebrates Win for Turkey Hunters in Iowa

Posted on Monday, March 21, 2022

Contact: Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • On Thursday, March 10, the Iowa House of Representatives unanimously passed Senate File 2334 (SF 2334), a bill that seeks to permit the use of 28 gauge and .410-bore shotguns during turkey seasons.
  • Thanks to advances in modern shotshell technologies, gauges such as 28 gauge and .140-bore represent reliable and effective options for turkey hunters.
  • Once signed by Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Gov. Kim Reynold, SF 2334 will allow young, smaller-framed, and otherwise recoil sensitive hunters to use these light recoiling options in the turkey woods.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) shared a letter of support with members of the Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus earlier in the legislative session

Why It Matters: While the fair chase ethic remains an important part of what it means to be a sportsman or sportswoman, opportunities to utilize modern developments to open the door for new hunters are always exciting. Recently, advancements in shotshell technologies have done just that for turkey hunters, creating opportunities for youth, small-framed, or otherwise recoil sensitive hunters to use shotgun gauges that have historically been considered too small for turkey hunting. With the passage of SF 2334 in Iowa, hunters in the Hawkeye State will now be able to take advantage of these opportunities. CSF was thrilled to be able to support this effort by submitting a letter to the Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.

On Thursday, March 10, the Iowa House of Representatives substituted Senate File 2334 (SF 2334) in place of its companion, House File 2370 (HF 2370), and passed the measure unanimously. As reported previously, these bills would permit hunters to utilize shotguns chambered in 28 gauge or .410-bore during the Hawkeye State’s turkey season. SF 2334 was previously passed by the Senate with unanimous consent, meaning that the bill now awaits approval by Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Kim Reynolds before it becomes law.

After sharing a letter of support for this effort with members of the Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus earlier in the legislative session, CSF and partners were happy to see this legislation pass with such strong support. Thanks to advancements in shotshell technologies, many modern turkey loads offer ethical levels of effectiveness in gauges that were historically considered much too small for turkey hunting. Due to the lower recoil generated by these gauges, their use represents an attractive option for youth and smaller-framed hunters who may not find the recoil generated by other shotgun gauges pleasurable when hunting. Recognizing this, the legalization of 28 gauge and .410-bore shotguns during turkey seasons represents an important opportunity for the recruitment of new hunters.

Similarly, the ability to use lighter recoiling firearms represents an opportunity to reactivate hunters who may otherwise be recoil sensitive or simply did not enjoy using more traditional turkey gauges (often 20 or 12 gauges). In fact, many members of CSF’s staff currently enjoy the opportunity to use small gauge shotguns as allowed in their home states thanks to their lighter recoil impulses and the lightweight, and thereby more maneuverable, shotgun options that are available in these smaller gauges.

While technological advancements must always be evaluated to maintain the fair chase ethic that we, as sportsmen and women, pride ourselves in protecting, CSF continues to support opportunities to ensure that anybody who has an interest in our time-honored outdoor traditions has the ability to do so.

Policy Corner Brief: APRIL 2022 This article is published in the issue.
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Policy Corner Brief: APRIL 2022

MAPLand Act Clears Senate, Heads to President’s Desk to Be Signed into Law

Posted on Monday, April 11, 2022

  • Last week, the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land Act (MAPLand) Act passed the Senate under unanimous consent, a sign of the strong bipartisan support for this important legislation, sending the bill to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
  • H.R. 3113, the MAPLand Act, was introduced in a bipartisan fashion by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Rep. Blake Moore (UT) and Reps. Russ Fulcher (ID), Joe Neguse (CO), and Kim Schrier (WA).
  • The Senate companion bill, S. 904, was introduced and championed by CSC past Co-Chair Sen. Jim Risch (ID), CSC Leaders Sen. Heinrich and Manchin.
  • The MAPLand Act will help provide more certainty and access to critical public land information for America’s 55 million sportsmen and women and other outdoor recreationalists.

Why it matters:  Digital mapping and GPS technologies have fundamentally changed how sportsmen and women traverse federal lands. However, inconsistent, and outdated record keeping practices amongst federal land management agencies hinders the ability of sportsmen and women to fully take advantage of these technologies, which will be addressed in part by the MAPLand Act. The Congressional passage of the MAPLAND is significant win for America’s sportsmen and women.

Last week, the Senate voted to pass the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land Act under unanimous consent, setting the bill up to be signed into law by President Biden.

For the last few years, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and partners, including the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, have been strongly advocating for the passage of the MAPLand Act. CSF has sent numerous action alerts to Members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus urging them to vote in favor of the MAPLand Act and coordinated with the bill leads to move this important legislation forward.

Millions of America’s hunters, anglers, trappers, and recreational shooters rely on public lands and waters for recreation. Before planning a trip to a new area, any sportsman or woman can attest to the fact they spend countless hours glossing over maps on their computers or their handheld devices to get a better idea of the water or landscape. However, a lack of clear and publicly available information often deters sportsmen and women from recreating on a given piece of public land.

Furthermore, for many land management agencies much of their mapping information is still held in paper format, which is concerning, as easements and rights-of-way information could be lost in perpetuity if proper documentation is lost or destroyed. Estimates indicate that the U.S. Forest Service has only digitized roughly 5,000 of their 37,000 recorded easements. Unfortunately, federal land management agencies most important to sportsmen and women, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Forest Service, lack the necessary financial resources to digitize and modernize mapping information for the lands they manage.

To address these challenges, the MAPLand Act will authorize much needed financial resources over three years for the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and Army to accelerate the modernization and digitization of public land mapping information. The MAPLand Act also requires that public land management agencies make their information publicly available on their respective websites to be easily accessible by the public

The MAPLand Act now awaits to be signed into law by President Biden.

 

Lead Ammunition Ban on the Move in New York

Posted on Monday, April 11, 2022

Contact: Joe Mullin, Northeastern States Manager

  • On March 30, New York Assembly Bill 5728 (A. 5728) – legislation that would prohibit the use of lead ammunition for hunting on “wildlife management areas, state forests, forest preserves, state parks or any other state-owned land that is open for hunting” as well as “land area contributing surface water to the New York City water supply” – passed the Assembly and was sent to the Senate Committee on Environmental Conservation.
  • Just last year, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter of opposition for this bill’s same-as version in the Senate, as did the New York Sportsmen’s Advisory Council, calling for a swift rejection of this legislation.
  • Wildlife management decisions such as lead ammunition bans must be left under the sound, scientifically based discretion of the state’s fish and wildlife agency and not the legislature.

Why it Matters: The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has opposed legislatively-driven lead ammunition bans in states across the nation for a variety of reasons. Simply put, state fish and wildlife agencies are in the best possible positions to make the necessary decisions and take reactionary measures to ensure the continued conservation of our nation’s fish and wildlife. Therefore, these decisions should and must be left to the discretion of the agencies.

In March of 2021, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted testimony against legislation that would have banned the use of lead ammunition for hunting on “wildlife management areas, state forests, forest preserves, state parks or any other state-owned land that is open for hunting” and “land area contributing surface water to the New York City water supply.” Similarly, the New York Sportsmen’s Advisory Council weighed in by sending a letter of opposition that addressed lead ammunition bans in both the Senate and Assembly. Flash forward to March 30 of this year, A. 5728 has passed the Assembly and was sent to be heard in the Senate Committee on Environmental Conservation.

What sets A. 5728 apart from legislative efforts to ban lead ammunition in other states is that it prohibits its use in the “land area contributing surface water to the New York City water supply.” Despite the claimed risks to human health and safety, it is reported that an individual would have to eat a “blood-shot burger frequently to maintain enough metallic lead in your digestive system for these fragments to be a dangerous source of lead poisoning.” It therefore stands to reason that if directly consuming game meat shot with lead bullets has been proven to not have any such adverse effects, there is no cause for concern that lead bullets would somehow cause human health concerns in the state’s water supply.

Another concern is the availability and prices of ammunition. Generally, nontraditional ammunition is significantly more expensive than lead shot and is not nearly as readily available for purchase as traditional ammunition. From a cost standpoint, a ban on lead ammunition would require hunters to purchase exorbitantly more expensive nontraditional ammunition, which serves as a disincentive to active hunters and a barrier to entry for novice sportsmen and women across the state.

CSF will continue to oppose this lead ammunition ban and other misguided legislatively driven efforts as they arise. Additional updates will be provided as they are made available.

 

Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund Awaits Governor’s Signature

Posted on Monday, April 11, 2022

Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator

  • During the 2022 legislative session, multiple dedicated conservation funding bills were introduced by Mississippi Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) members. Representative Trey Lamar introduced House Bill 606, Caucus Co-Chair and National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council Member Representative Scott Bounds introduced House Bill 1064, and Caucus Co-Chair Senator Neil Whaley introduced Senate Bill 2495 to establish the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund (Fund) to support fish and wildlife conservation initiatives in the state.
  • On March 2, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) along with numerous partners, submitted comments in support of establishing the Fund.
  • HB 606 and HB 1064 originally aimed to dedicate a portion of the state’s pre-existing sales tax on outdoor sporting goods to the Fund, while SB 2495 aimed to appropriate monies from the State General Fund to the Fund.
  • On April 5, HB 606 was amended to remove the sales tax diversion and passed out of conference. Subsequently, Senate Bill 2780, an appropriations bill, was amended in conference to include a $10 million dollar appropriation to the Fund from the State General Fund for FY 2023.

Why It Matters: With the passage of HB 606 and SB 2780 and pending the signature of Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Tate Reeves, Mississippi will have additional dollars to qualify for federal conservation programs to benefit Mississippi’s fish and wildlife resources along with it hunters and anglers. For example, Mississippi could leverage these funds for habitat work through Farm Bill programs that provide $6 billion annually for conservation work on private lands across the country. Additional funding is also available through Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Acts that match dollars at a 3:1 ratio.

Dedicated conservation funding has been a priority for the Caucus over the past year. Last year Representative Scott Bounds introduced legislation to establish the Fund. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 117-2 but ultimately died in conference. Dedicated conservation funding was also front and center during the Caucus Sporting Clays Classic in November of 2021 and the Annual Caucus Fish-Fry in February of 2022.

While the diversion of sales tax revenue from outdoor sporting goods sales would have allowed the Fund to be self-sustainable and not reliant on annual appropriations made by the legislature, the $10 million dollar appropriation made to the Fund will provide a funding boost for projects. These projects will benefit wildlife and their habitats, which will also benefit recreational opportunities and public access for sportsmen and women in the Magnolia State.

Funding for projects by the Fund will be determined by a Board of Trustees. Counties, municipalities, state agencies, and nongovernmental entities will apply to the Board and detail the proposed project as well as how much funding would be required. The Board would then prioritize projects that support and promote hunting, fishing, and other forms of outdoor recreation.

CSF applauds the work of Representative Scott BoundsRepresentative Trey Lamar, Chairman of the House Committee on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Representative Bill Kinkade, Senator Neil Whaley, and numerous other Caucus members in establishing the Fund and will continue to coordinate with in-state and national partners to encourage Governor Reeves to sign HB 606 and SB 2780 into law.

 

Challenges for Public Lands, Conservation Easements Continue Across Midwest

Posted on Monday, April 04, 2022

Contact: Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • On March 24, Oklahoma HB 3280 passed out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, albeit with a stricken title.
  • OK HB 3280 joins a growing list of bills from across the Midwest that seeks to cap land ownership by the state and federal governments and limit the length of conservation easements established voluntarily on private lands.
  • This growing trend represents a significant challenge for sportsmen and women specifically, and all conservationists in general, who work with federal, state, and private landowners to implement science-based and widely supported conservation efforts that provide critical access.

Why It Matters: Politically charged conversations have increasingly found themselves entering the realm of sportsmen’s issues as they relate to public lands. Some have even begun to spill over into conversations about voluntary conservation programs available for private landowners. While many of these discussions claim to focus on ensuring private lands remain available for the next generation, it is important to remember the role of public lands in supporting local and state economies through outdoor recreation. Further, it is critical that supporters of conservation continue to point out that private land conservation programs, including easements, are entered into voluntarily by informed landowners who should have the ability to make such decisions regarding their lands.

Through House Bill 3280 (HB 3280), Oklahoma joined a growing list of states who have seen efforts to cap the ability of the federal and state government to acquire and own land within the state. HB 3280 seeks to limit federal and state land ownership to no more than 10% of the lands in Oklahoma. Further, the legislation seeks to cap the length of conservation easements on private lands to no more than 30 years. This year alone, similar efforts have cropped up in Iowa and Nebraska, though fortunately neither of those have seen much progress.

Efforts to cap public lands represent a tremendous threat to sportsmen and women, many of whom rely on public lands for access to our time-honored traditions. Not only does this impact the ability of many to participate in the activities that each of us hold dear, but it represents a significant threat to the future of conservation efforts supported through the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding that relies on the participation of sportsmen and women. Further, limited access options pose a challenge for many rural economies that are reliant on tourism revenue driven by outdoor recreation.

While proponents of limiting government land ownership often cite concerns related to topics like eminent domain, it is important to point out that most land acquisitions for conservation and public access are conducted between government entities and willing sellers who cherish the idea of their property being used to support conservation efforts and provide opportunities for other sportsmen and women. The same is often true for conservation easements in which landowners voluntarily work with government agencies, land trusts, or similar parties to develop a conservation program designed to ensure that their properties are protected and conserved for generations, often in exchange for payment, tax credits, or other incentives.

Oklahoma HB 3280 was narrowly passed out of the House on March 24, though its title was stricken. This process in Oklahoma means that, should the bill receive support in the Senate, the bill must be returned to the House to have its title restored before it can be passed and sent to the Governor. Right now, HB 3280 awaits consideration in the Senate.

 

Investing in a Lifetime of Enjoyment, Youth Lifetime License Bill Passes in Kansas

Posted on Monday, April 04, 2022

Contact: Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • After last-minute amendments sent the bill to Conference Committee, Kansas House Bill 2456 (HB 2456) now creates a youth lifetime license option with price brackets for ages 0-5 and 6-7.
  • HB 2456 was introduced by Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Ken Corbet to provide adults with an affordable opportunity to make an investment in the next generation of sportsmen and women.
  • With lifetime price tags of $300 for ages 0-5 and $500 for ages 6-7, the licenses authorized via HB 2456 represent an opportunity to invest in future generations of sportsmen and women while protecting the integrity of the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF).
  • After both chambers approved of the Conference Committee Report on March 31, HB 2456 now awaits approval by Governor Laura Kelly.

Why it Matters: As reported earlier this year, the concept of a lifetime license available for youth represents an opportunity to begin investing in future generations of sportsmen and women. However, all efforts to remove recruitment barriers must also ensure that the future viability of the American System of Conservation Funding is protected. HB 2456 represents a unique attempt to strike this balance that, if successful, could serve as a model for other states.

Just before midnight on March 31, the Kansas House of Representatives voted 93-20 to adopt the Conference Committee Report for Kansas House Bill 2456 (HB 2456). This vote came shortly after the Senate voted unanimously in favor of adopting the report. As reported previously, HB 2456 was introduced by Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Ken Corbet as a way to provide adults with an affordable opportunity to make an investment in the next generation of sportsmen and women.

After working with representatives from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP), HB 2456’s sponsors amended the bill to raise the prices of the license for ages 0-5 from $200 to $300 to minimize the loss of potential future revenue. This was particularly important in Kansas where the KDWP’s wildlife and fisheries efforts are funded solely by sportsmen and women through the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF).  This version was passed by the House in February by a vote of 117-4. However, prior to its first unanimous passage out of the Senate, the legislation was amended to include a second license option for ages 6-12 at a price of $400.

Recognizing the risks that this additional age bracket posed for the ASCF, the House rejected the Senate’s amendments and sent the bill to Conference Committee where the final compromise was negotiated. In its final form, HB 2456 will require KDWP to offer a lifetime combination license for ages 0-5 at a price of $300 while offering a secondary option for ages 6-7 at a price of $500.

Because the effects of this bill on both hunter and angler recruitment and the ASCF are largely unknown, it is important to recognize this effort largely as an experiment. Given the recent boom in hunter and angler participation spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic, HB 2456 represents an attempt to capture this momentum and parlay it into an ongoing investment in the future of the activities that we all hold dear. Only time will tell if this effort will be successful, but the concept is certainly commendable.

 

CSF Mourns Loss of Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Founding Member Rep. Don Young, a Conservation Giant

Posted on Monday, March 21, 2022

This past Friday, March 18, Congressman Don Young (AK), an avid outdoorsman, a master legislator, a conservation legend, and a founding member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, unexpectedly passed away at the age of 88.

Congressman Young, who would more than occasionally remind those around him that he was the Congressman for ALL of Alaska, served Alaska and the United States as a member of Congress for nearly 50 years from 1973 until the time of his passing. In 2017, Congressman Young earned the title of “Dean of the House” in recognition of being the longest serving current member of Congress, a title he held until his passing. Prior to becoming the longest serving Republican in the history of Congress, Congressman Young was a member of the U.S. Army, tugboat captain, trapper, mayor, and a fifth-grade teacher.

During his time in Congress, Congressman Young Chaired the House Natural Resources Committee from 1995 – 2001 and Chaired the House Transportation Committee from 2001 – 2007. Prior to Chairing the Natural Resources Committee and the Transportation Committee, the Dean was a founding member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, which he later Chaired, and served as a leading member until his passing. Without Congressman Young’s foresight and wisdom, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus undoubtedly would not be the powerful, bipartisan consortium it has grown into today.

Throughout his tenure in Congress, Congressman Young’s commitment to sportsmen and women was profound. The Dean championed countless pieces of legislation of importance to sportsmen and women, including the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, Wallop-Breaux Act, sportfishing and recreational boating safety legislation, among other enduring legislative efforts, all of which continue to have a profoundly positive impact on America’s 55 million sportsmen and women.

While the Dean’s Congressional resumé is one of the most impressive in the history of the legislative body, Congressman Young may be best known for his larger-than-life personality. The rare and often unparalleled personality traits of Congressman Young gave him the unique ability to relate to people of all walks of life and an even more uncanny ability to transcend partisan lines to problem solve, advance legislation, and most importantly, develop lifelong friendships. This personality was routinely on display at events hosted by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, including the Congressional Clays Competition, where the Dean could often be found heckling participants for missing a clay target. The personality and charisma of Congressman Young will never be replaced.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is incredibly grateful for the leadership and commitment of the Congressman for ALL of Alaska. While CSF will never be able to fully express our appreciation to the Congressman, he will forever remain in our hearts and minds, especially as we tackle the conservation challenges for America’s sportsmen and women, just as he would have expected.

CSF extends our thoughts and prayers to his beloved wife, Anne, and his family, friends, colleagues, and fellow sportsmen and women.

 

CSF Celebrates Win for Turkey Hunters in Iowa

Posted on Monday, March 21, 2022

Contact: Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • On Thursday, March 10, the Iowa House of Representatives unanimously passed Senate File 2334 (SF 2334), a bill that seeks to permit the use of 28 gauge and .410-bore shotguns during turkey seasons.
  • Thanks to advances in modern shotshell technologies, gauges such as 28 gauge and .140-bore represent reliable and effective options for turkey hunters.
  • Once signed by Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Gov. Kim Reynold, SF 2334 will allow young, smaller-framed, and otherwise recoil sensitive hunters to use these light recoiling options in the turkey woods.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) shared a letter of support with members of the Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus earlier in the legislative session

Why It Matters: While the fair chase ethic remains an important part of what it means to be a sportsman or sportswoman, opportunities to utilize modern developments to open the door for new hunters are always exciting. Recently, advancements in shotshell technologies have done just that for turkey hunters, creating opportunities for youth, small-framed, or otherwise recoil sensitive hunters to use shotgun gauges that have historically been considered too small for turkey hunting. With the passage of SF 2334 in Iowa, hunters in the Hawkeye State will now be able to take advantage of these opportunities. CSF was thrilled to be able to support this effort by submitting a letter to the Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.

On Thursday, March 10, the Iowa House of Representatives substituted Senate File 2334 (SF 2334) in place of its companion, House File 2370 (HF 2370), and passed the measure unanimously. As reported previously, these bills would permit hunters to utilize shotguns chambered in 28 gauge or .410-bore during the Hawkeye State’s turkey season. SF 2334 was previously passed by the Senate with unanimous consent, meaning that the bill now awaits approval by Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Kim Reynolds before it becomes law.

After sharing a letter of support for this effort with members of the Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus earlier in the legislative session, CSF and partners were happy to see this legislation pass with such strong support. Thanks to advancements in shotshell technologies, many modern turkey loads offer ethical levels of effectiveness in gauges that were historically considered much too small for turkey hunting. Due to the lower recoil generated by these gauges, their use represents an attractive option for youth and smaller-framed hunters who may not find the recoil generated by other shotgun gauges pleasurable when hunting. Recognizing this, the legalization of 28 gauge and .410-bore shotguns during turkey seasons represents an important opportunity for the recruitment of new hunters.

Similarly, the ability to use lighter recoiling firearms represents an opportunity to reactivate hunters who may otherwise be recoil sensitive or simply did not enjoy using more traditional turkey gauges (often 20 or 12 gauges). In fact, many members of CSF’s staff currently enjoy the opportunity to use small gauge shotguns as allowed in their home states thanks to their lighter recoil impulses and the lightweight, and thereby more maneuverable, shotgun options that are available in these smaller gauges.

While technological advancements must always be evaluated to maintain the fair chase ethic that we, as sportsmen and women, pride ourselves in protecting, CSF continues to support opportunities to ensure that anybody who has an interest in our time-honored outdoor traditions has the ability to do so.

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