Policy Corner Brief: JUNE 2022
CSF Applauds House Passage of Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, A Pivotal Bill to Conserve Fish and Wildlife
Today, June 14, 2022 (Washington, D.C.) – Minutes ago, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 2773), marking the furthest this critically important bill has progressed in Congress as a stand-alone effort. Led by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Co-Chair Rep. Debbie Dingell, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a longstanding priority of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), who has been a driving force behind the legislation since its conceptual stages in 2015.
In 2015, CSF President and CEO Jeff Crane was tapped to serve as one of the Legislative Co-Chairs by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources, the coalition who developed the framework that led to Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. Today, the Blue Ribbon Panel is represented by the Alliance for America’s Fish & Wildlife, and CSF not only serves as an active member of the Alliance, but also continues to serve as a leading advocate to move this bill through the legislative process on Capitol Hill.
Recovering America’s Wildlife Act seeks to provide nearly $1.4 billion annually for proactive, non-regulatory conservation projects in every state, territory, and on tribal lands and waters. This bill would be one of the most significant investments in fish and wildlife conservation in a lifetime. Specifically, funding provided through H.R. 2773, combined with a 25% non-federal match, would fully fund each state’s Congressionally mandated State Wildlife Action Plan. Collectively, these plans have identified nearly 12,000 Species of Greatest Conservation Need, including many iconic species such as northern bobwhite quail, monarchs and other pollinators, gopher tortoise, sturgeon, and countless waterfowl species, all of which need a dedicated source of conservation funding before more regulatory and costly measures are necessary.
“Right now, the United States is facing an unprecedented biodiversity crisis,” said Congresswoman Dingell. “We’ve already seen our nation’s beautiful monarch butterfly population plummet, and we’ve lost nearly 3 billion birds since 1970. Without a significant change in the way we finance conservation, more of the animals and wildlife we hold dear to our heart will become endangered. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is landmark legislation that takes long-overdue action to address this crisis by using innovative, on-the-ground collaboration that will protect our nation’s environmental heritage. We have a conservation, economic, and moral obligation to act in order to protect and recover America’s wildlife for future generations. I am grateful to the broad, bipartisan coalition that has fought for this legislation, and I urge the Senate to act on this bill right away.”
“Today’s passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a clear result of the tireless leadership of CSC Co-Chair Rep. Debbie Dingell, who continues to spearhead this much-needed legislation, and CSF is proud to work with her to move this bill out of the House,” said CSF President and CEO Jeff Crane. “This bipartisan bill represents a smart, cost-effective effort to proactively conserve fish and wildlife species to turn the corner before more expensive and burdensome measures are needed.”
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to work with CSC House Co-Chair Rep. Debbie Dingell and CSC Senate Co-Chair Sen. Martin Heinrich, the Senate bill sponsor, to move this legislation through the Senate and ultimately to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
Massachusetts Municipalities to Potentially Limit Number of Dogs Owned
Posted on Monday, June 13, 2022
Contact: Joe Bachar, New England States Coordinator
- The Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means Committee is considering legislation that would have wide-sweeping ramifications on sportsmen and women who hunt and/or compete with dogs in the Bay State.
- Senate Bill 1322 (S. 1322) would modify existing law by requiring local licensing authorities to determine “the maximum number of dogs that may be maintained by the licensee on the license.”
- This legislation would unduly handcuff hunters, such as beaglers and other upland hunters, who rely on numerous dogs in the pursuit of game, as well as those who compete in a variety of field trials with numerous dogs.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has been working alongside partner organizations such as the American Kennel Club in opposing S. 1322.
Why it Matters: Dogs play an integral role in many of our nation’s sporting pursuits. From hunting-related traditions, such as tracking big game, pointing, flushing, and retrieving downed fowl, to competing in a variety of field trials across the country, our four-legged friends play an irreplaceable part in field activities. Therefore, requiring local licensing authorities to place restrictions on the number of dogs that may be owned by those already possessing four or more (three months or older) is in fact curbing these pursuits. Many households include hunting and non-hunting dogs alike, all falling within under the same roof with one another. Massachusetts law already requires those in possession of four or more dogs to obtain a kennel license but requiring municipalities to determine a set number of dogs that an individual may own removes the autonomy that sporting dog owners currently enjoy.
Currently, the Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means Committee is reviewing legislation that is both broad and prohibitive in nature for the state’s sportsmen and women. As written, Senate Bill 1322 (S. 1322) will result in comprehensive changes to not only dog daycare facilities, but also “commercial boarding and training kennels” and “personal kennels,” which would thereby prohibitively affect those who hunt and participate in field trials. As is typical with restrictive kennel legislation, this bill was drafted as a response to an isolated case of irresponsible care at a dog daycare facility. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has been working alongside the American Kennel Club (AKC) in opposition to this bill in its current form.
Under current law, municipalities are authorized to issue a personal kennel license to anyone owning four or more dogs in addition to the licenses for each individual dog. If enacted, S. 1322 would require municipalities to issue these licenses set limits on the number of animals each personal kennel is able to own without evidence of neglect or abuse. Additionally, S. 1322 contains no language of how a town or municipality would go about resolving kennels it deems are being kept in substandard conditions.
This places an undue financial and regulatory burden on responsible individual owners and could potentially be used to hold them to the same standards as commercial businesses, such as training and commercial kennels. Additionally, it restricts the hunting and field trial communities by allowing municipalities to arbitrarily cap dog ownership – something that is inherently wrong to all those who enjoy working alongside dogs in the field.
CSF has a tenured history in fighting excessively restrictive kennel legislation in the northeast – something that has been a growing theme in recent years. CSF will continue to work alongside the AKC in opposing this legislation. Additional updates on will be provided as they are made available.
NFWF Announces Request for Proposals to Advance the America the Beautiful Challenge
Posted on Monday, June 06, 2022
- In April, the Council on Environmental Quality announced the formation of America the Beautiful Challenge (ATBC) to promote public-private contributions to further conserve America’s land, water, and wildlife conservation efforts.
- Recently, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced a request for proposals as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s America the Beautiful Challenge.
Why it matters: The announcement of a request for proposals from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation marks one of the most significant steps that the Biden-Harris Administration has taken to advance the America the Beautiful Initiative. Closely tied to the global Thirty-by-Thirty (30×30) initiative which seeks to protect 30% of lands and waters by 2030, the America the Beautiful Initiative has been followed closely by the sportsmen’s community, who see the initiative’s potential benefits and threats. While many of the specifics will remain undefined until the Administration releases its American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas, the sportsmen’s community remains engaged in an effort to steer the initiative towards successful conservation.
Recently, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) released the 2022 Request for Proposals (RFP) to facilitate public-private conservation and restoration efforts, as it relates to the Biden-Harris Administration’s America the Beautiful Initiative. Termed the America the Beautiful Challenge, the current opportunity to submit RFPs represents a significant investment in the America the Beautiful Initiative.
The America the Beautiful Initiative began as part of the global Thirty-by-Thirty effort started by the environmental community. It seeks to protect the earth’s biodiversity and address climate change by protecting 30% of the planet’s lands and waters by the year 2030. “Thirty by Thirty” proposals were originally linked to global land and water protected area targets established by the United Nation’s Convention on Biological Diversity. However, given the lack of clarity regarding the 30×30 initiative and its impact on the United States, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has been working to ensure this effort ultimately supports conservation, rather than preservation, and protects and advances opportunities for sportsmen and women.
Since 2020, CSF has been the leading voice in the hunting, fishing, trapping, and recreational shooting community on the America the Beautiful/30×30 efforts. Our efforts include the development of the HuntFish30x30 Coalition which consists of more than 65 organizations who are working to ensure the America the Beautiful Initiative supports the interests of America’s hunters, anglers, and other sportsmen and women, state fish and wildlife agencies, private landowners, and other conservation-minded stakeholders.
Specifically, the recently announced RFP will provide opportunities for states, Tribes, local governments, non-governmental organizations, and other interested stakeholders to apply for up to $85 million in grant funding made available by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. To be eligible for funding, a grantee must submit a proposal that is consistent with at least one of the following criteria:
Conserving and restoring rivers, coasts, wetlands, and watersheds
Conserving and restoring forests, grasslands, and other important ecosystems that serve as carbon sinks
Connecting and reconnecting wildlife corridors, large landscapes, watersheds, and seascapes
Improving ecosystem and community resilience to coastal flooding, drought, and other climate-related threats
Expanding access to the outdoors, particularly in underserved communities
Given that many questions regarding the America the Beautiful Initiative remain, CSF will continue to coordinate with the Biden-Harris Administration, the HuntFish30x30 Coalition, and other interested parties to ensure the America the Beautiful initiative supports and promotes the interests of America’s sportsmen and women.
GSC Member Governor Kim Reynolds Signs Bill to Allow the Use of .410-bore and 28-gauge Shotguns During Iowa’s Turkey Seasons
Posted on Tuesday, May 31, 2022
Contact: Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy
- On Tuesday, May 24, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC) Member Governor Kim Reynolds and Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg hosted a signing ceremony for Iowa Senate File 2334.
- SF 2334, which permits the use of .410-bore and 28-gauge shotguns during Iowa’s turkey seasons, was managed in each chamber by Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Leaders Senator Chris Cournoyer and Representative Terry Baxter.
- After passing through the legislature with unanimous consent and being signed into law, SF 2334 represents a win for Iowa’s turkey hunters.
Why it matters: Thanks to advancements in shotshell technologies, smaller bore shotguns have become an effective and ethical option for hunters in pursuit of turkey. Thanks to their relatively light weight and low recoil, these options represent a great choice for young, small-framed, or otherwise recoil sensitive hunters who have historically been limited to 20-gauge and larger shotguns. The passage of SF 2334 represents a great opportunity to recruit new hunters and reactivate those whose participation may have lapsed due to recoil concerns.
On Tuesday, May 24, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) staff joined partners in Des Moines Iowa for a bill signing ceremony for Senate File 2334 hosted by Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Kim Reynolds and Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg. As previously reported, SF 2334 would permit Iowa’s turkey hunters to utilize shotguns chambered in .410-bore and 28-gauge while hunting.
While .410-bore and 28-gauge shotguns have historically been considered an underpowered option for many when it comes to harvesting turkey, advancements in shotshell technologies have allowed these sub-gauges to become a viable choice in the turkey woods. As a result, lighter shotguns with significantly less recoil have become increasingly tailored toward turkey hunters, particularly those who are younger, smaller-framed, or otherwise recoil sensitive. While hunters may continue to turn to their trusty 20- and 12-gauges, the signing of SF 2334 represents a victory for the recruitment of new hunters as well as the reactivation of those who may have lapsed due to recoil sensitivities.
During the signing ceremony, attendees were joined by both industry and conservation representatives, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Senator Chris Cournoyer and Representative Terry Baxter who managed SF 2334 and its companions in each chamber. SF 2334 will take effect later this summer, meaning that the Hawkeye State’s turkey hunters will have extra options heading into the fall.
GSC Member Governor Larry Hogan Enacts Wave of Sunday Hunting Authorizations and Expansions
Posted on Tuesday, May 31, 2022
Contact: Joe Mullin, Northeastern States Manager
- During a year in which over a dozen Sunday hunting bills were raised in Maryland, on May 16, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland put pen to paper, enacting several pro-sportsmen’s policies that expands the growing list of county-specific Sunday hunting opportunities.
- Several of the successful Sunday hunting initiatives were spearheaded by members of the Maryland Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, further exemplifying their staunch advocacy for Maryland’s sportsmen and women.
- Throughout regular sessions, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has weighed in on a number of these policies in an effort to bring Sunday hunting to additional counties within the Old Line State.
Why it Matters: Sunday hunting bans are one of the last remaining examples of the puritanical blue laws, but in recent years, much progress has been made towards lessening these restrictions. In Maryland, Sunday hunting for all game birds and mammals on Sundays is authorized in select counties, but restrictions remain for much of the state. Removing, even lessening Sunday hunting prohibitions offers the state a variety of advantages. Legislative efforts that encourage and expand the abilities of hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and trappers by increasing access and opportunities have the potential to immediately bolster financial support for state fish and wildlife agencies, thus, supporting their mission-driven conservation projects.
On May 16, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland signed seven Sunday hunting bills into law, capping a successful year overall in providing seven-day hunting seasons to Maryland’s sportsmen and women. Throughout the year, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted written testimony to various committees in support of additional Sunday hunting authorizations for the state. In a general sense, Maryland is in a somewhat unique position, as Sunday hunting is permitted in select counties, but restrictions remain for other areas of the state. This patchwork of restrictions can cause unnecessary confusion for sportsmen and women.
The pro-sportsmen’s bills that Governor Hogan signed into law, further expanding Sunday hunting opportunities within the Old Line State are included below with their respective descriptions and effective dates:
- House Bill 51 – authorizes the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to allow hunters in Talbot County to pursue deer “on each Sunday of the deer hunting season” as well as hunt “turkey on each Sunday of the spring turkey hunting season.” The effective date is July 1, 2022.
- House Bill 143 – “expands Sunday hunting in Somerset County” relative to the pursuit of game birds and/or mammals. The effective date is July 1, 2022
- House Bill 170 – “expands Sunday hunting in Calvert County” relative to the pursuit of game birds and/or mammals. The effective date is July 1, 2022.
- House Bill 485 – “makes permanent an authorization for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to allow a person to hunt deer in Montgomery County on each Sunday of the deer hunting season.” The effective date is July 1, 2022 “unless the effective date of Section 2 of Chapter 95 of 2020 is amended, in which case the bill takes effect on the taking effect of Section 2 of Chapter 95.”
- House Bill 514 – “expands Sunday hunting in Charles County” relative to the pursuit of game birds and/or mammals. The effective date is July 1, 2022.
- House Bill 556 – “expands Sunday hunting in Caroline, Dorchester, and Queen Anne’s counties” relative to the pursuit of game birds and/or mammals. The effective date is July 1, 2022.
- House Bill 592 – authorizes the DNR to “allow a person hunting under a deer management permit on state and leased by a permittee for the cultivation of crops to use a shotgun or breech loading center fired rifle approved by DNR to hunt deer throughout the year, including all deer hunting seasons, in the locations and under the conditions set forth in the permit.” The effective date is July 1, 2022.
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