Policy Corner Brief: DECEMBER 2022
Benefits to Anglers and Boaters Poised to Become Law in the NDAA
Posted on Monday, December 12, 2022
- The Water Resources Development Act, commonly known as WRDA, authorizes water resources infrastructure projects carried out by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and is generally updated by Congress every two years.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is one of the nation’s leading federal providers of outdoor recreation with more than 400 lake and river projects in 43 states.
- WRDA 22 was amended to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 23 which passed the House last week, and the amendment contained several CSF-supported provisions that will benefit angling and boating access, as well as our fisheries and aquatic resources.
Why It Matters: The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) provides an opportunity every two years to enhance the Corps ability to provide public recreational activities like fishing and boating, as well as authorizing projects that improve fish habitat, water conservation, coastal resiliency, and curtail the threats of invasive species. WRDA 22, now a part of the National Defense Authorization Act, is poised to see several import fishing and boating priorities become law for 2023.
Last Thursday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 7776, the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (NDAA) and includes the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 (WRDA) language, which is an important bill to authorize U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) activities for things like flood control, navigation, recreation, and ecosystem restoration. Fortunately, the version that passed the House contained several CSF priority provisions, and CSF submitted a support letter to Senate leadership urging that our priorities remain in the final version of the bill. The NDAA will be considered by the Senate this week.
Some of the CSF-supported provisions that are poised for becoming law in the NDAA if they remain in the final agreement include:
- Requires the Corps to prepare and submit an updated report to Congress on the economic benefits of recreational boating in the Great Lakes basin.
- Increases invasive species management authorized appropriations for the Corps to partner with other federal and state agencies and adds the Lake Erie and Ohio River Basins as areas eligible for those partnerships.
- Modifies state cost share requirement of Brandon Road project from 80 to 90 percent, which will close the most likely route for Asian carp to enter the Great Lakes.
- Authorizes the Corps to accept and use non-Federal materials, services, and funds to repair, restore, or rehabilitate public recreation facilities at Corps-operated reservoirs during periods of lower water.
- Requires the Corps to report on the investments needed to support recreational activities on authorized water resources development projects.
- Requires the Corps to establish a demonstration program to provide assistance to non-Federal interests in the Lower Mississippi River Basin for projects focused on aquatic ecosystem restoration, among others.
While a provision to allow the Corps to retain 80% of recreation fees collected at recreation sites for operation and maintenance did not make it into the bill, CSF will be working with partners on a standalone bill in the 118th Congress to ensure the majority of money collected at Corps recreation sites remain with those sites.
The Top Issues Congress Should Pass Before the End of the 117th Congress
Posted on Tuesday, November 29, 2022
- Congress returns this week for the remaining few legislative weeks of the 117th Congress and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is working to ensure that the interests of sportsmen and women are addressed before the conclusion of this Congress.
- In these remaining weeks, CSF is urging Congress to prioritize several critically important issues for sportsmen and women. These priorities include the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act, the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act, a bill to address the Cottonwood decision, the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act, and the Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies and Ecosystems (RISEE) Act.
Why It Matters: With roughly three legislative weeks left in the Congressional calendar, it is now or never to pass legislation before the door closes on the 117th Congress. If CSF’s priorities are left unaddressed by the time this Congress finishes, each piece of legislation will have to start over at the beginning of the legislative process when the 118th Congress convenes in January.
As the sun sets on the 117th Congress, it is important for this Congress to address a number of issues that are critical to sportsmen and women and our conservation efforts across the country. The following priorities are the top issues that CSF is urging Congress to prioritize and pass before the end of the year:
- Recovering America’s Wildlife Act
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act has the opportunity to be the most significant investment in fish and wildlife conservation in decades. With successful passage already occurring at the Senate committee level in April, bipartisan passage by the House in June, and widespread bipartisan and stakeholder support, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act has all the makings for an end-of-the-year agreement. By providing nearly $1.4 billion annually to state and Tribal wildlife agencies to proactively conserve nearly 12,000 Species of Greatest Conservation Need, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act should be considered a must-pass piece of legislation.
- Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act
The U.S. Senate should also prioritize the passage of the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Research and Management Act (H.R. 5608/S. 4111), which provides $70 million from FY22 to FY28 for CWD research and management. This legislation marks the first piece of legislation to be supported by all interested CWD stakeholders. With that support in mind, H.R. 5608 bill sailed through the House on an impressive bipartisan vote of 393-33 roughly six weeks after it was introduced. Additionally, the bill is cosponsored by nearly a quarter of the U.S. Senate, demonstrating the widespread bipartisan support for addressing CWD. As CWD continues to spread across the country and our wildlife managers are forced to divert limited resources to CWD research and management, H.R. 5608 and S. 4111 represent an essential investment in our efforts to combat CWD.
- America’s Outdoor Recreation Act
In May of this year, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted unanimously to pass the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (S. 3266), a bill strongly supported by CSF. Led in a bipartisan fashion by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Vice Chair Senator Joe Manchin and CSC Member John Barrasso, this bill recognizes the importance of federal public lands for sportsmen and women, and other conservationists. One of the top priorities for CSF included in S. 3266 is language that would require the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service to have a minimum of one shooting range in each of their respective districts, which will enhance opportunities for America’s 32 million recreational target shooters. Congress has yet to pass a broad public lands package in the 117th Congress and S. 3266 should fill that void.
- A Fix to the Cottonwood Decision
In 2018, Congress passed a partial fix to the problematic 2015 Cottonwood decision, which essentially halts any forest management projects in the 9th Circuit on federal lands. However, the partial fix is set to expire in March of 2023. As such, it is critical that Congress pass S. 2561, a bill led by CSC Member Senator Steve Daines, to provide much-need relief to our public land managers by alleviating the costly procedural hurdles imposed by the Cottonwood decision. Recognizing the hindrances caused by Cottonwood, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the bill in July on a convincing vote of 16-4. A permanent fix to the Cottonwood decision is strongly supported by dozens of sporting-conservation and professional wildlife management organizations.
- Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act
The Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act (H.R. 404/S. 273) is a bipartisan bill that will eliminate the last of the large-scale, antiquated drift gillnet fisheries in the U.S. and assist fishery participants in shifting to more targeted and efficient gears. Large-mesh drift gillnets that target swordfish off California’s coast are a passive method of commercial fishing in deep waters that entangles not only swordfish but also results in the mortality of other important sportfish species, as well as marine mammals and sea turtles. This bill passed the Senate earlier this year under unanimous consent and we urge the House to add this legislation to the floor calendar. CSF credits Congress for passing the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act in the 116th Congress, but unfortunately, the bill was not signed into law in January 2021.
- Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies and Ecosystems (RISEE) Act
The RISEE Act (H.R. 9049/S. 2130) would help diversify federal conservation funding by dedicating a portion of the royalties from the development of offshore wind to coastal resiliency investments and dedicating more of the existing offshore energy production revenue from the Gulf of Mexico to support regional coastal restoration and resiliency projects. In July, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the RISEE Act on a strong vote, signaling strong support for coastal restoration efforts which have the added benefit of enhancing recreational fishing opportunities for coastal communities.
Measure 114 Passes in Oregon; Sportsmen’s Coalition Will Continue
Posted on Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Contact: Keely Hopkins, Manager, Pacific States & Firearm Policy
- By a margin of less than 1.5%, Oregon voters narrowly passed Measure 114 on the November ballot. As drafted, Measure 114 will ban all standard capacity magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds and will require an exhaustive permitting process to purchase a firearm. The measure also has the potential to shut down the sale of all firearms beginning on December 8th until the permitting process is established.
- Over 20 national and state organizations banded together in opposition to the ballot measure, forming the Sportsmen Opposed to Gun Violence Coalition, which quickly became one of the larger opposition efforts in the state and focused on informing voters about the devastating consequences the measure would have on hunting, recreational shooting, and conservation.
- The Sportsmen’s Coalition, led by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and the Oregon Hunters Association, is continuing to meet and is currently exploring all legal and legislative options as the measure’s implementation date of December 8th creeps closer.
Why It Matters: Oregon’s law-abiding hunters and shooters have long played a vital role in funding conservation and wildlife management efforts throughout the state. Under the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays-public benefits” structure, Oregon’s sportsmen and women generate tens of millions of dollars each year for the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. These funds are generated through license sales and a 10-11% federal excise tax on sporting-related goods, including firearm purchases. If implemented, Measure 114 will impact conservation funding in the state by decreasing the tax revenue available for wildlife management and conservation.
By a narrow margin of less than 1.5%, Measure 114, which will ban all standard capacity magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds and require a permit to purchase a firearm, has passed in Oregon. In an incredible effort by the sportsmen’s community, over 20 national and state organizations quickly organized as the Sportsmen Opposed to Gun Violence Coalition to push back against the initiative and to help inform voters about the severe impacts the measure will have on recreational shooting, hunting, and conservation funding. The coalition, which is continuing to grow even after the passage of Measure 114, ran radio and digital ads leading up to the November 8th election to help ensure that sportsmen and women across the state were aware of the effects that Measure 114 would have on Oregon’s conservation funding and the state’s rich outdoor heritage. Following the passage of Measure 114, the coalition is continuing to meet and is currently exploring all legal and legislative options.
Measure 114, as passed, will ban standard capacity magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds and will establish an exhaustive permit process to purchase a firearm. To obtain the permit, Oregon’s hunters and recreational shooters will be required to take a yet-to-be-established firearm training course that is offered by law enforcement or law enforcement-certified instructors. Without a permitting system or in-person training course established, and without funding to implement these requirements, Measure 114 has the potential to shut down all gun sales in Oregon on December 8th when that portion of the initiative takes effect. Even once established, the lengthy permitting process and training requirements will place additional burdens and costs on new hunters and shooters, raising concerns about the impact it will have on R3 efforts and future hunter participation numbers.
Joining the fight to protect outdoor recreation in Oregon, the ongoing Sportsmen Opposed to Gun Violence coalition is now focused on legal and legislative efforts and is comprised of the following organizations: Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Oregon Hunters Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Sportsmen’s Alliance, Safari Club International, Mule Deer Foundation, Dallas Safari Club, National Deer Association, Oregon United Sporting Dogs Association, Oregon Trappers Association, Hunting Works for Oregon, National Trappers Association, Furtakers of America, Oregon Angler Alliance, Oregon Outdoor Council, Oregon Wild Sheep Foundation, Oregon Association of Shooting Ranges, Oregon State Shooting Association, Oregon Arms Collectors, and Oregon Gun Owners. More information on the coalition and the initiative can be found at www.SportsmenNo114.org.
Hunters Harvesting for the Holidays: Game Meat Donation Programs Can Fill Tables This Thanksgiving & Beyond
Posted on Monday, November 21, 2022
Contact: Bob Matthews, Senior Coordinator, Upper Midwestern States
- Donating game meat such as venison is an effective way to distribute surplus meat to those in need when a hunter harvests more than they can eat themselves.
- In America, public perceptions of hunting remain extremely positive when the procurement of meat is the primary motivation for the harvest of wild game. Game meat donation programs help to educate others on this component of the sportsman ethic while sharing the benefits of the harvest.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) supports legislation that expands the ability of sportsmen and women to share their delicious harvests with those in need.
Why It Matters: Sportsmen and women are greatly responsible for the many American conservation successes through their funding of state agencies, an important role in wildlife population management. However, the contributions of sportsmen and sportswomen do not end with conservation funding. With the holiday season approaching, game meat donation programs serve as an opportunity for hunters to share their harvest and provide yet another service to society.
Across the Midwest, trophy bucks are chasing does while sportsmen and women are finally using all those hard-earned vacation days that they’ve been saving up to get out in the field. From their deer blinds, hunters can enjoy their passion for the woods and field while passing that passion on to their children. However, their outdoor heritage is not all that can be shared from these hunts. In many states, fish and wildlife agencies, non-profit organizations, and participating game processors work with hunters to allow game meat to be donated to those in need. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, these game meat donation programs are another opportunity for hunters to demonstrate the immense value that our time-honored traditions offer to society.
In 2020, the Missouri State Legislature unanimously passed the widely supported HB 1711, which expanded game meat donation opportunities in the state by allowing foods like snack sticks and jerky to be donated along with perishable game meat. In 2021, CSF supported the passage of HB 2213 in Texas, which allowed game meat from legally harvested exotic species to be donated. CSF will continue to support the expansion of game meat donation programs, as well as liability exemptions for such programs, so that hunters may continue their outdoor pursuits feeding not only their own families but others as well.
Below is a list of established game meat donation programs that may allow you to feed a family in need this holiday season:
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