Federal Policy Updates
On March 9, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Senator Gardner (CO), and CSC Leaders Senators Manchin (WV), Heinrich (NM), and Boozman (AR) were joined by over a dozen other CSC members to introduce S. 3422, the Great American Outdoors Act, which will provide $900 million to the Land and Water Conservation Fund in perpetuity and $9.5 billion over 5 years to address our public land maintenance backlog.
Recently, the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land Act, a bill to modernize public recreational access information, was introduced in the Senate (S. 3427) by Senator Martha McSally (AZ) and Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Member (CSC) Senator Angus King (ME). The House companion (H.R. 6169) was led by Congressmen Russ Fulcher (ID) and Derek Kilmer (WA).
The digitization of public easements and right-of-ways is a significant issue as the storage practices among various land management field offices vary. For example, one field office may have each easement and right-of-way uploaded to a computer file, while a field office in another location may only have paper documentation of the easement. This is problematic as the easements and rights-of-way could be lost in perpetuity if proper documentation is lost or destroyed.
State Policy Updates
On March 5, the Iowa House of Representatives voted to pass Senate File 280 (SF 280). This bill would expand resident status for hunting and fishing licenses to include active duty members of the armed forces and their spouses stationed at a military installation contiguous to an Iowa county and domiciled in Iowa. Originally introduced as SF 215 by Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Chris Cournoyer, SF 280 now awaits concurrence in the Senate.
On March 17, Michigan Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Representative Gary Howell introduced House Bill 4313. This bill would require anyone 16 years-of-age or older to purchase a pheasant stamp to hunt pheasants in the state. The $25.00 stamp would be in addition to the base license required for small game hunting in Michigan. Revenues generated from the stamp would be used to benefit pheasant hunting in the state, with 75% dedicated to support the Michigan Pheasant Hunting Initiative and 25% dedicated to maintaining and expanding pheasant habitat.
Though the vast majority of conservation efforts are funded by hunters, anglers, recreational shooters and trappers through the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding, many fish and wildlife agencies are looking for ways to generate additional revenues for conservation efforts to improve fish and wildlife populations that benefit sportsmen and women. The South Dakota State Legislature is currently considering a bill that would establish a new stamp to provide an estimated $5.7 million each year in additional funding for habitat conservation and improved access for hunters and anglers.
On February 24, a new rule went into effect, allowing hunting within 29 of Utah’s 44 state parks, increasing hunter access and opportunities throughout the state. Previously, limited hunting was only allowed within 14 state parks.
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