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Policy Corner Brief: MARCH 2022

Policy Corner Brief: MARCH 2022

Policy Corner Brief: MARCH 2022

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Policy Corner Brief: MARCH 2022

STORY BY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY
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CSF and Other Hunting and Fishing Conservation Leaders Urge U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Maintain Access for Sportsmen and Women

Posted on Monday, March 14, 2022

  • On Friday, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and 40 of the nation’s leading hunting, fishing, and other conservation organizations urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to maintain access for hunting and fishing across 2.3 million acres of lands and waters maintained by the Service.
  • Specifically, the letter speaks to the wide-spread opposition from the hunting and fishing community to a recent lawsuit filed by an anti-hunting organization that seeks to overturn hunting and fishing access expansions that were announced in 2020.

Why it matters: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the top federal agency dedicated to conserving our nation’s fish, wildlife, and their associated habitats.  The Service also supports more than 2.4 million hunting related visits and 7.3 million fishing visits annually, marking the Service one of the most important federal land management agencies for sportsmen and women. If the efforts by the anti-hunting environmental organization are successful, the lawsuit has the potential to reduce access for sportsmen and women on 2.3 million acres of public lands and waters. 

On March 11, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation along with 40 of the nation’s leading hunting, fishing, and other leading conservation organizations sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urging the Service to maintain hunting and fishing access opportunities on 2.3 million acres of public lands and waters throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System and the National Fish Hatchery System.

The letter urged the Service to oppose the lawsuit filed by an irritant anti-hunting organization who alleges that the 2020 expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities by the Service will harm and reduce endangered species. Specifically, the anti-hunting organization alleges the Service violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act as additional hunting and fishing on Service lands and waters poses a threat to endangered species through potential lead poisoning from ammunition and fishing tackle.

Hunting and fishing are not only time-honored traditions within the National Wildlife Refuge System, but they are also activities that Congress has directed the Service to support throughout history. The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 established a robust management framework for the System and guidance on how refuges should be managed and used by the public. The Improvement Act explicitly lists hunting and fishing as two of the six priority uses for the Refuge System. Without a clear scientific justification, any effort to reduce access that is solely based on disdain for hunting and fishing is not only inconsistent with the historical operations of the Refuge System, but also goes against the intent of Congress through the Improvement Act.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to monitor this situation and will work to ensure that hunting and fishing access is not limited or reduced based on pure hostility towards these time-honored traditions.

 

CSF Supports Firearm Safety Education Efforts in Kansas

Posted on Monday, March 14, 2022

Contact: Kent Keene, Senior Coordinator, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • On Monday, March 14, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) testified in front of the Kansas Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs in support of Senate Bill 522 (SB 522).
  • SB 522 would require the Kansas State Board of Education to standardize a firearm safety education curriculum available to public school districts.
  • By allowing firearm safety education in schools, it gives students the opportunity to learn about the safe and responsible handling of firearms from qualified instructors in a controlled setting.

Why it matters: Firearm safety education in schools presents an opportunity to educate youth on the importance of safe and responsible behavior around firearms. The curricula described in Senate Bill 552, which includes the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, & Tourism’s Hunter Education curriculum, presents an opportunity to introduce students to firearms while potentially recruiting the next generation of sportsmen and women. Given the importance of hunting and recreational shooting to the American System of Conservation Funding, these opportunities represent an important opportunity to complement hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) efforts.

On Monday, March 14, CSF’s Kent Keene testified in front of members of the Kansas Senate’s Committee on Federal and State Affairs in support of Senate Bill 522 (SB 522). This legislation would require the Kansas States Board of Education to develop a standardized curriculum for firearm safety education that would be available to Kansas’ public school district. With this curriculum developed, the decision whether to incorporate it would then be left to each school district.

Last year, a similar CSF-supported bill was passed by the legislature but was ultimately vetoed by Kansas Governor Laura Kelly due to a variety of concerns. However, CSF maintains that developing a standardized curriculum would provide Kansas educators with an opportunity to introduce students to the safe and responsible handling of firearms in a highly controlled setting. Such introductions are invaluable to ensure that students of all ages know what to do when they encounter a firearm. Though SB 522 would not require school districts to incorporate the firearm safety curriculum, it is the hope of CSF and our partners that all school districts would consider adding these educational opportunities for the benefit of the Sunflower State’s children.

From the perspective of sportsmen and women, such educational opportunities could serve as a recruitment opportunity into the world of hunting or the shooting sports, particularly when this education is provided in the form of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks’ (KDWP) Hunter Education curriculum. Given the importance of these activities to conservation funding through the American System of Conservation Funding, such opportunities should not be understated.

In addition to verbal testimony, CSF shared a formal letter of support for SB 522 with members of the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs, and the entirety of the Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. From here, SB 522 awaits further action in the Senate.

 

Youth Lifetime License Bill Passes House, Gains Community Support

Posted on Monday, March 07, 2022

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

  • Kansas House Bill 2456, introduced by Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Representative Ken Corbet, was recently passed by the Kansas House of Representatives.
  • HB 2456 seeks to create a lifetime combination hunting and angling license available for youth up to age five.
  • As amended, HB 2456 represents a novel opportunity for adults to invest in the next generation of sportsmen and women while protecting the integrity of the American System of Conservation Funding.

Why It Matters: The opportunity to facilitate open communication and collaboration is one of the primary purposes for the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) network. The conversations around Kansas House Bill 2456 have highlighted the value of such collaboration. Introduced as a very worthwhile concept, the willingness of members of the Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus to engage with staff at the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks has led to the adoption of amendments that will help accomplish the bill’s mission of providing a positive way to invest in the future of sportsmen and women while protecting the American System of Conservation Funding.

Following discussions between supporters of youth lifetime license concept within the legislature and representatives from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP), Kansas House Bill 2456 was recently passed out of the Kansas House of Representatives with amendments.

As previously reported, KS HB 2456 was introduced by Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Ken Corbet as an effort to create a low-cost lifetime combination license for youth ages five and younger. This effort is designed as an opportunity for adults to make investments in the next generation of sportsmen and women. However, the original language created concerns shared by KDWP and some members of the sporting-conservation community who worried that the initial cost would threaten KDWP’s funding, given their sole reliance on the “user pays – public benefits” framework of the American System of Conservation Funding.

After productive conversations between engaged legislators and the KDWP, HB 2456 was amended to increase the initial price of this combination license from $200 to $300 and includes the opportunity for KDWP to increase the price up to $400 after the first five years. This opportunity will allow KDWP to evaluate any unintended negative funding consequences associated with the license and take necessary steps to address these challenges in the future. Finally, the amended legislation includes a ten-year sunset that will allow the success of this license concept to be thoroughly evaluated.

Following the adoption of these amendments, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and several representatives from the sporting-conservation community submitted a letter of support for HB 2456 to members of the Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. In the letter, the community acknowledged the recent downward trends in hunter and angler participation and recognized the license framework in HB 2456 as an opportunity to invest in the next generation of sportsmen and women. Likewise, the coalition applauded the amendments made to HB 2456 to ensure that it protects the American System of Conservation Funding. Following passage in the House by a vote of 117-4, HB 2456 was introduced in the Kansas Senate last week and currently awaits further action in the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

 

Virginia Public Lands Sunday Hunting Headed to the Governor’s Desk

Posted on Monday, March 07, 2022

 Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director

  • Legislation (Senate Bill 8) to allow Sunday hunting on public lands cleared a major hurdle when it reported out of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Sub-Committee: Natural Resources (Sub-Committee) on a 4-2 vote on March 2.
  • The bill then passed the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee (Committee) by a slim margin the same day and then passed the House of Delegates on a bipartisan 69-28 vote on March 7.
  • Similar legislation (House Bill 111) died in the Sub-Committee earlier this session, but SB 8 will now head to Governor Youngkin for his consideration.

Why It Matters: Senate Bill 8 is the fourth public lands Sunday hunting bill introduced in three years. The legislation passed the Senate 29-11 on January 24, and the Committee and House of Delegates were the final hurdles before the bill could be sent to the Governor’s desk. The three other Sunday hunting bills (House Bill 1632 in 2020, House Bill 199 in 2021, and House Bill 111 in 2022) never advanced past the Committee.

Prior to the March 2 Sub-Committee’s and subsequently the Committee’s consideration of Senate Bill 8, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and national and in-state sportsmen’s group submitted a letter to Committee members strongly supporting the legislation. The letter expressed the hunting conservation community’s unified support for passing Senate Bill 8, priority legislation that would largely repeal Virginia’s antiquated prohibition against Sunday hunting on public lands.

The letter pointed out that the bill would support Virginia’s economy, support conservation funding for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, and support hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation efforts in addition to noting that every state adjacent to Virginia allows public land Sunday hunting.

At the Sub-Committee hearing, representatives from CSF, Delta Waterfowl, Safari Club International, Virginia Bowhunters Association, and the Virginia Public Lands Hunters and Fisherman Facebook group testified in support of the bill.

Following the bill reporting out of the Committee, CSF and 15 partners submitted a letter to the House of Delegates, and CSF and partners also worked together to generate grassroots support.

CSF would like to thank the Delegates that supported the bill, and CSF would especially like to thank Senator Chap Petersen and Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Delegate James Edmunds for their continued leadership on this issue.

CSF will continue to support the bill in conjunction with partners in the Virginia sportsmen’s community to hopefully see the bill signed into law. The legislation is a major victory for Virginia’s hunters that rely on public land for hunting access as more than 2 million acres of public land would be open to Sunday hunting for the first time in Virginia’s history.

 

Federal Agencies Reestablish Important Federal Land Access Program, Addressing Long-Standing CSF Priority

Posted on Monday, February 28, 2022

Why it matters: FLTFA helps advance local community, conservation, and recreation needs by addressing land ownership patterns that can cause problems for landowners, sportsmen and women, and public land managers. Now, officially reestablished, the FLTFA program will help increase access opportunities for sportsmen and women across the West.

Earlier this year, the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Serviced signed an agreement to implement the reauthorized Federal Lands Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA), a long-standing priority for CSF. In 2018, CSF worked with our partners to secure reauthorization of the Federal Lands Transaction Facilitation Act as part of the FY2018 Omnibus appropriations bill, delivering a significant win to sportsmen and women.

FLTFA is a modified land exchange program that facilitates strategic federal land sales by federal land management agencies to provide funding for high-priority conservation in the Western United States. Part of the FLTFA provision within the Omnibus also increases access for sportsmen and outdoor recreation. The “Inaccessible Lands Open to Public Hunting, Fishing, Recreational Shooting, or Other Recreational Purposes,” provision within FLTFA allows the Bureau of Land Management to acquire additional lands to increase public access in places where it does not currently exist.

In addition, federal agencies are required to consider the “Extent to which the acquisition of the land or interest therein will increase the public availability of resources for, and facilitate public access to hunting, fishing, and other recreational activities” when prioritizing land acquisitions under FLTFA. Federal agencies also have expanded authorities to pursue strategic acquisitions adjacent to National Forest System lands and consider priority habitats when evaluating a potential acquisition.

“FLTFA is a common-sense, bipartisan solution that will improve public land access for America’s sportsmen and women,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President and CEO Jeff Crane. “CSF was proud to work with members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus to improve FLTFA by making U.S. Forest Service access projects eligible for the program as part of our larger goal of ‘Making Public Lands Public.’ We applaud the agencies for taking this important step.

 

CSF Stands Against Financial Discrimination of Firearms Industry

Posted on Monday, February 28, 2022

Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager

  • South Dakota Senate Bill 182 & House Bill 1314 state that South Dakota will not engage in contracts with financial institutions that discriminate against the firearm and ammunition industry.
  • Currently, several large banks place unwarranted restrictions on the firearm and ammunition industry that negatively impact both the industry and the end consumer.
  • These restrictive business practices are highly concerning from a civil liberties standpoint and have the potential to create negative impacts on Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (R3) efforts and state fish and wildlife agency funding.

Why it Matters: Several large banks currently institute restrictions on the firearm and ammunition industry. Examples of such restrictions include prohibiting retailers who are customers of the banks from selling long guns to anyone under 21 years of age (despite the federal age of legal ownership being 18), ceasing loans to companies who manufacturer modern sporting rifles, and more. These restrictions impede business practices that are legal and already highly regulated. Such practices are concerning from a civil liberties standpoint and because the sale of firearms and ammunition are a vital part of our conservation funding matrix.

On February 15, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) testified before the South Dakota Committee on Commerce and Energy in support of Senate Bill 182 (SB 182). The bill would formally establish in statute that the state of South Dakota will not engage in contracts with financial institutions that discriminate against the firearm and ammunition industry unless it is vital for the financial stability of the State.

CSF has long supported bills such as this on behalf of the firearms and ammunition industries that are so important to sportsmen and women. Discriminatory practices such as those that this bill would protect against cause concern as they restrict civil liberties and could severely impact the American System of Conservation Funding, a “user pays – public benefit” funding mechanism by which those who consumptively use public resources pay for the privilege to do so. Through the Pittman-Robertson Act, excise tax revenue from firearms and ammunition, combined with the sale of hunting licenses to sportsmen and women who often utilize firearms and ammunition in their pursuits, provides a critical source of conservation funding that allow state fish and wildlife agencies to implement critical conservation efforts across the nation. Furthermore, we need to make sure that new participants can easily enter the sport to maintain this funding model.

While SB 182 did not pass out of committee, House Bill 1314, which contains the same language, recently passed out of the House Judiciary Committee, and awaits further action in the House. CSF will continue to monitor the progress of this legislation and similar legislation in other states.

 

Numerous Pro-Sportsmen Bills on the Move in Georgia

Posted on Monday, February 28, 2022

Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator

  • House Bill 1147 (HB 1147), sponsored by numerous Georgia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) members, would allow for the hunting and trapping of raccoons and opossums year-round in Georgia. HB 1147 passed the House of Representatives (House) and awaits action in the Senate.
  • House Bill 1148 (HB 1148), sponsored by numerous Caucus members, including Caucus Co-Chair Representative David Knight, strengthens Georgia’s Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) prevention strategy by prohibiting the importation and possession of certain Cervidae (deer family) carcasses or parts from out-of-state. HB 1148 passed the House and awaits action in the Senate.
  • House Bill 1349 (HB 1349), sponsored by numerous Caucus members, extends the baseline date for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) No-Net-Loss statute to protect acreage available for hunting opportunities on DNR managed state-owned lands. HB 1349 awaits action in the House.

Why it Matters: Trapping is an effective tool that aids in managing a myriad of different wildlife species. CWD is a progressive, fatal, degenerative neurological disease that occurs in farmed and free-ranging deer and has recently been confirmed in neighboring Alabama. Lastly, lack of access to hunting lands is cited as a primary reason that hunters stop participating in hunting, making the passage of No-Net-Loss legislation important to the continued tradition of hunting and fishing in the state of Georgia.

HB 1147: Racoons and opossums are notorious for negatively impact ground nesting bird populations such as turkey and quail. Allowing for the hunting and trapping of raccoons and opossums not only allows for outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the year, but it also aids in further managing highly successful nest predator populations.

HB 1148: This legislation would prohibit the importation and possession of certain Cervidae carcasses or parts from outside of the state, except for deboned meat, antlers, skulls, skull plates, teeth, or jawbones with no soft tissue attached, hides with no heads attached, and finished taxidermy. HB 1148 would strengthen Georgia’s efforts to keep Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from being introduced into the state.

HB 1349: Georgia previously passed No-Net-Loss legislation which limits the loss of access to hunting opportunity by establishing a minimum acreage of state-owned areas open to sportsmen and women. This ensures that future generations have the same opportunities tomorrow that exist today. HB 1349 would extend the baseline date from 2005 to 2022 from which the DNR managed state-owned lands acreage is measured. The DNR has acquired new Wildlife Management Areas since 2005 so it is important to update the statute to reflect the acreage currently available for hunting.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) will continue to coordinate with the DNR, as well as in-state and national partners to support these bills.

If you are interested in keeping up-to-date on legislation impacting sportsmen and women, sign up for the CSF’s Tracking the Capitols.

 

Colorado House Agriculture, Livestock, and Water Committee Unanimously Advances Hunter Education Bill

Posted on Monday, February 28, 2022

Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Rocky Mountain States Senior Coordinator

  • On Thursday, February 24, the Colorado House Agriculture, Livestock, and Water Committee passed HB22-1168 – Public School Hunter Education Seventh Grade Course – with an 11-0 vote, highlighting the immense bipartisan support for the bill.
  • HB22-1168 was passed with an amendment that would allow schools to offer hunter education to students outside of grade seven.
  • In support of HB22-1168, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation provided virtual testimony and signed onto a coalition letter with 16 other sporting-conservation organization.

Why it Matters: By giving public schools the opportunity to offer hunter education as an elective with parent approval, fewer students will be inadvertently excluded from taking hunter education based on parent work schedules or socioeconomic limitations, providing many students with a learning opportunity that they would not have had otherwise. Furthermore, hunter education can teach students and their parents about the mental and physical benefits associated with the hunting and the outdoors and directly combat the increasing prevalence of Nature Deficit Disorder in today’s youth.

As previously reported, HB22-1168 aims to allow hunter education to be offered as a public school elective. While the bill would not mandate that public schools to offer hunters education or require student participation, it would provide public schools with the option to offer it as an elective and students the opportunity to participate with parental approval.

By providing students with the opportunity to take hunters education in school, we can help restore a desire for Colorado’s youth to spend more time being active in the outdoors, proactively address grown concerns surrounding Nature Deficit Disorder with today’s youth, work to recruit new sportspeople, increase future financial contributions to state-based conservation through the American System of Conservation Funding, and teach students about the critical role that sportspeople play in conservation and the sustainability of our wildlife.

After receiving immense support for HB22-1168 from numerous individuals and organizations participating in virtual and in-person testimony including Colorado Parks and Wildlife; Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF); Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; National Shooting Sports Association; and more, the Colorado House Agriculture, Livestock, and Water Committee expressed overwhelming support for the bipartisan and bicameral bill and advanced it to the House Floor on an 11-0 vote. There was no in-person or virtual testimony provided by opponents of the bill. Ahead of the hearing, CSF also signed onto a coalition letter with 16 other outdoor sporting conservation organizations as part of the Colorado Wildlife Conservation Partnership to demonstrate our collective and enthusiastic support for HB22-1168.

CSF will keep you updated on the progress of HB22-1168 as that information is made available.

 

House Natural Resources Committee Passes Important Great Lakes Conservation Bill

Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Why it matters:  The Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Reauthorization has provided approximately $31 million in federal funding to conduct roughly 185 research, restoration, and regional conservation projects, making this program critical for fish and wildlife within the Great Lakes region. These projects include waterfowl monitoring, wetland restoration, culvert improvement, dam removal, among many other important conservation efforts, all of which are important to sportsmen and women.

On February 17, the House Natural Resources Committee passed the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Reauthorization Act of 2021, a bipartisan bill championed by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Co-Chair Representative Debbie Dingell.

The Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration (GLFWRA) Reauthorization Act seeks to reauthorize the GLFWRA program at $6 million annually through Fiscal Year 2027. Specifically, the GLFWRA program provides federal funding to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work collaboratively with states, Tribes, and federal agencies to conduct fish and wildlife restoration and conservation efforts within the Great Lakes Region. The federal funds provided through the GLFWRA program are leveraged with a non-federal 25% match for any given conservation project, which strengthens the federal funding authorized by this bill.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will urge the House of Representatives to bring this common-sense and proven bill to the floor for a final vote in the House.

 

Departments of the Interior and Agriculture Announce Application Period for Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council

Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2022

  • Last week, the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture announced the opening of an application period for the Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council, a Federal Advisory Committee dedicated to supporting and advancing our nation’s time-honored traditions of hunting, recreational shooting, and other forms of outdoor recreation.

Why it matters: The Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council is a unique opportunity for leaders in the outdoor sporting-conservation community to provide recommendations and advice directly to the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on issues that are most important to sportsmen and women.

On February 17, the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture announced the opening of a nomination period to fill membership on the previously noticed Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council.

The announcement by the Biden-Harris Administration regarding the formation of the Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council marks the fourth consecutive Presidential Administration that has developed a Federal Advisory Committee to advance wildlife conservation and hunting, recreational shooting, and outdoor recreation access opportunities.  The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) applauds the Administration for moving quickly to seek applications to this critically important Federal Advisory Committee.

Notably, representatives from CSF have served on every iteration of the Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council. Most recently, CSF President and CEO Jeff Crane served as the Chair of the Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council for the totality of the Council’s existence. Under Crane’s leadership, the Council provided over 30 recommendations to the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on a diverse array of issues ranging from wild game nutrition, access to federal lands and waters, wildlife disease, recreational shooting range construction, among other important issues to sportsmen and women.

Individuals interested in applying to the Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council should follow directions contained in the Federal Register.

 

Shotgun Calibers and Land Acquisition Legislation up for Debate in Iowa

Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Contact: Kent Keene, Senior Coordinator, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • Last week, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined partners in weighing in on Iowa House File 2370 (HF 2370) and Senate Study Bill 3134 (now Senate File 2312, SF 2312).
  • HF 2370 seeks to authorize the use of .410-bore and 28-gauge shotguns using size-10 or larger shot during turkey seasons, while Senate Study Bill 3134 seeks to cap the price that county conservation boards and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources may pay when purchasing lands in the state.
  • CSF submitted a letter of support to the Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus for HF 2370 highlighting the advances in shotshell technology and Recruitment, Retention, Reactivation (R3) benefits associated with this bill.
  • Alternatively, CSF submitted a letter of opposition to the Caucus for SSB 3134 (now SF 2312) pointing out the benefits of public lands and the potential consequences of this legislation.

Why it Matters: As legislation continues to move rapidly across the Lower Midwest and around the nation, two bills in Iowa have risen to the surface are receiving a lot of attention. Working with mission partners and members of the Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has joined to ranks of sporting-conservationists in supporting a proposed expansion of shotgun calibers during turkey season) while opposing efforts designed to impair the Department of Natural Resources’ ability to purchase additional lands that would provide public access and opportunities for sportsmen and women.

Last week, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted comment letters to members of the Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus regarding legislation currently moving in the state. These included a letter of support for House File 2370 (HF 2370 and formerly House Study Bill 609) and a letter of opposition to Senate Study Bill 3134 which has since been introduced outside of Committee as Senate File 2312(SF 2312).

HF 2370 seeks to permit .410-bore and 28-gauge shotguns using tungsten shot (sizes #10 or larger) during the state’s turkey season. Currently, only 20-gauge and larger shotguns may be used. However, thanks to advances in shotshell technology such as the development of tungsten shot, smaller and lighter-recoiling calibers can now be used to ethically and effectively harvest turkeys. At its core, HF 2370 opens the door for new hunters, particularly younger, smaller framed, or otherwise recoil-sensitive hunters, to enjoy the wonders of turkey hunting in Iowa.

SF 2312, seeks to cap the price that the Iowa DNR may pay when purchasing land. In the letter of opposition, CSF pointed out several of the issues associated with this language, including the challenges it creates as the DNR seeks to provide quality hunting and angling access for the Hawkeye State’s sportsmen and women. Proponents of this type of legislation claim to be acting on behalf of young farmers and ranchers who they believe are at a disadvantage when having to “compete” against the government to purchase land. However, this misrepresentation conflates other controversial land acquisition practices such as Eminent Domain with the willful sale of land. Here, land acquisitions are conducted with landowners who willingly chose to sell their land to the DNR, many of whom cherish the idea that their properties will be conserved for the benefit of their fellow Iowans. On the other hand, those who wish to sell their lands to beginning farmers and ranchers maintain the right to do just that, a concept that, when scrutinized, severely damages the logic on which legislation like SF 2312 is built.

Currently, HF 2370 (passed out of committee as HSB 609) awaits further action in the House of Representatives while SF 2312 (passed out of committee as SSB 3134) awaits further action in the Senate. For more information on the status of these bills, visit the Iowa Legislature’s website.

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

CSF and Other Hunting and Fishing Conservation Leaders Urge U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Maintain Access for Sportsmen and Women

Posted on Monday, March 14, 2022

  • On Friday, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and 40 of the nation’s leading hunting, fishing, and other conservation organizations urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to maintain access for hunting and fishing across 2.3 million acres of lands and waters maintained by the Service.
  • Specifically, the letter speaks to the wide-spread opposition from the hunting and fishing community to a recent lawsuit filed by an anti-hunting organization that seeks to overturn hunting and fishing access expansions that were announced in 2020.

Why it matters: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the top federal agency dedicated to conserving our nation’s fish, wildlife, and their associated habitats.  The Service also supports more than 2.4 million hunting related visits and 7.3 million fishing visits annually, marking the Service one of the most important federal land management agencies for sportsmen and women. If the efforts by the anti-hunting environmental organization are successful, the lawsuit has the potential to reduce access for sportsmen and women on 2.3 million acres of public lands and waters. 

On March 11, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation along with 40 of the nation’s leading hunting, fishing, and other leading conservation organizations sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urging the Service to maintain hunting and fishing access opportunities on 2.3 million acres of public lands and waters throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System and the National Fish Hatchery System.

The letter urged the Service to oppose the lawsuit filed by an irritant anti-hunting organization who alleges that the 2020 expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities by the Service will harm and reduce endangered species. Specifically, the anti-hunting organization alleges the Service violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act as additional hunting and fishing on Service lands and waters poses a threat to endangered species through potential lead poisoning from ammunition and fishing tackle.

Hunting and fishing are not only time-honored traditions within the National Wildlife Refuge System, but they are also activities that Congress has directed the Service to support throughout history. The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 established a robust management framework for the System and guidance on how refuges should be managed and used by the public. The Improvement Act explicitly lists hunting and fishing as two of the six priority uses for the Refuge System. Without a clear scientific justification, any effort to reduce access that is solely based on disdain for hunting and fishing is not only inconsistent with the historical operations of the Refuge System, but also goes against the intent of Congress through the Improvement Act.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to monitor this situation and will work to ensure that hunting and fishing access is not limited or reduced based on pure hostility towards these time-honored traditions.

 

CSF Supports Firearm Safety Education Efforts in Kansas

Posted on Monday, March 14, 2022

Contact: Kent Keene, Senior Coordinator, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • On Monday, March 14, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) testified in front of the Kansas Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs in support of Senate Bill 522 (SB 522).
  • SB 522 would require the Kansas State Board of Education to standardize a firearm safety education curriculum available to public school districts.
  • By allowing firearm safety education in schools, it gives students the opportunity to learn about the safe and responsible handling of firearms from qualified instructors in a controlled setting.

Why it matters: Firearm safety education in schools presents an opportunity to educate youth on the importance of safe and responsible behavior around firearms. The curricula described in Senate Bill 552, which includes the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, & Tourism’s Hunter Education curriculum, presents an opportunity to introduce students to firearms while potentially recruiting the next generation of sportsmen and women. Given the importance of hunting and recreational shooting to the American System of Conservation Funding, these opportunities represent an important opportunity to complement hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) efforts.

On Monday, March 14, CSF’s Kent Keene testified in front of members of the Kansas Senate’s Committee on Federal and State Affairs in support of Senate Bill 522 (SB 522). This legislation would require the Kansas States Board of Education to develop a standardized curriculum for firearm safety education that would be available to Kansas’ public school district. With this curriculum developed, the decision whether to incorporate it would then be left to each school district.

Last year, a similar CSF-supported bill was passed by the legislature but was ultimately vetoed by Kansas Governor Laura Kelly due to a variety of concerns. However, CSF maintains that developing a standardized curriculum would provide Kansas educators with an opportunity to introduce students to the safe and responsible handling of firearms in a highly controlled setting. Such introductions are invaluable to ensure that students of all ages know what to do when they encounter a firearm. Though SB 522 would not require school districts to incorporate the firearm safety curriculum, it is the hope of CSF and our partners that all school districts would consider adding these educational opportunities for the benefit of the Sunflower State’s children.

From the perspective of sportsmen and women, such educational opportunities could serve as a recruitment opportunity into the world of hunting or the shooting sports, particularly when this education is provided in the form of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks’ (KDWP) Hunter Education curriculum. Given the importance of these activities to conservation funding through the American System of Conservation Funding, such opportunities should not be understated.

In addition to verbal testimony, CSF shared a formal letter of support for SB 522 with members of the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs, and the entirety of the Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. From here, SB 522 awaits further action in the Senate.

 

Youth Lifetime License Bill Passes House, Gains Community Support

Posted on Monday, March 07, 2022

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

  • Kansas House Bill 2456, introduced by Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Representative Ken Corbet, was recently passed by the Kansas House of Representatives.
  • HB 2456 seeks to create a lifetime combination hunting and angling license available for youth up to age five.
  • As amended, HB 2456 represents a novel opportunity for adults to invest in the next generation of sportsmen and women while protecting the integrity of the American System of Conservation Funding.

Why It Matters: The opportunity to facilitate open communication and collaboration is one of the primary purposes for the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) network. The conversations around Kansas House Bill 2456 have highlighted the value of such collaboration. Introduced as a very worthwhile concept, the willingness of members of the Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus to engage with staff at the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks has led to the adoption of amendments that will help accomplish the bill’s mission of providing a positive way to invest in the future of sportsmen and women while protecting the American System of Conservation Funding.

Following discussions between supporters of youth lifetime license concept within the legislature and representatives from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP), Kansas House Bill 2456 was recently passed out of the Kansas House of Representatives with amendments.

As previously reported, KS HB 2456 was introduced by Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Ken Corbet as an effort to create a low-cost lifetime combination license for youth ages five and younger. This effort is designed as an opportunity for adults to make investments in the next generation of sportsmen and women. However, the original language created concerns shared by KDWP and some members of the sporting-conservation community who worried that the initial cost would threaten KDWP’s funding, given their sole reliance on the “user pays – public benefits” framework of the American System of Conservation Funding.

After productive conversations between engaged legislators and the KDWP, HB 2456 was amended to increase the initial price of this combination license from $200 to $300 and includes the opportunity for KDWP to increase the price up to $400 after the first five years. This opportunity will allow KDWP to evaluate any unintended negative funding consequences associated with the license and take necessary steps to address these challenges in the future. Finally, the amended legislation includes a ten-year sunset that will allow the success of this license concept to be thoroughly evaluated.

Following the adoption of these amendments, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and several representatives from the sporting-conservation community submitted a letter of support for HB 2456 to members of the Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. In the letter, the community acknowledged the recent downward trends in hunter and angler participation and recognized the license framework in HB 2456 as an opportunity to invest in the next generation of sportsmen and women. Likewise, the coalition applauded the amendments made to HB 2456 to ensure that it protects the American System of Conservation Funding. Following passage in the House by a vote of 117-4, HB 2456 was introduced in the Kansas Senate last week and currently awaits further action in the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

 

Virginia Public Lands Sunday Hunting Headed to the Governor’s Desk

Posted on Monday, March 07, 2022

 Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director

  • Legislation (Senate Bill 8) to allow Sunday hunting on public lands cleared a major hurdle when it reported out of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Sub-Committee: Natural Resources (Sub-Committee) on a 4-2 vote on March 2.
  • The bill then passed the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee (Committee) by a slim margin the same day and then passed the House of Delegates on a bipartisan 69-28 vote on March 7.
  • Similar legislation (House Bill 111) died in the Sub-Committee earlier this session, but SB 8 will now head to Governor Youngkin for his consideration.

Why It Matters: Senate Bill 8 is the fourth public lands Sunday hunting bill introduced in three years. The legislation passed the Senate 29-11 on January 24, and the Committee and House of Delegates were the final hurdles before the bill could be sent to the Governor’s desk. The three other Sunday hunting bills (House Bill 1632 in 2020, House Bill 199 in 2021, and House Bill 111 in 2022) never advanced past the Committee.

Prior to the March 2 Sub-Committee’s and subsequently the Committee’s consideration of Senate Bill 8, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and national and in-state sportsmen’s group submitted a letter to Committee members strongly supporting the legislation. The letter expressed the hunting conservation community’s unified support for passing Senate Bill 8, priority legislation that would largely repeal Virginia’s antiquated prohibition against Sunday hunting on public lands.

The letter pointed out that the bill would support Virginia’s economy, support conservation funding for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, and support hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation efforts in addition to noting that every state adjacent to Virginia allows public land Sunday hunting.

At the Sub-Committee hearing, representatives from CSF, Delta Waterfowl, Safari Club International, Virginia Bowhunters Association, and the Virginia Public Lands Hunters and Fisherman Facebook group testified in support of the bill.

Following the bill reporting out of the Committee, CSF and 15 partners submitted a letter to the House of Delegates, and CSF and partners also worked together to generate grassroots support.

CSF would like to thank the Delegates that supported the bill, and CSF would especially like to thank Senator Chap Petersen and Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Delegate James Edmunds for their continued leadership on this issue.

CSF will continue to support the bill in conjunction with partners in the Virginia sportsmen’s community to hopefully see the bill signed into law. The legislation is a major victory for Virginia’s hunters that rely on public land for hunting access as more than 2 million acres of public land would be open to Sunday hunting for the first time in Virginia’s history.

 

Federal Agencies Reestablish Important Federal Land Access Program, Addressing Long-Standing CSF Priority

Posted on Monday, February 28, 2022

Why it matters: FLTFA helps advance local community, conservation, and recreation needs by addressing land ownership patterns that can cause problems for landowners, sportsmen and women, and public land managers. Now, officially reestablished, the FLTFA program will help increase access opportunities for sportsmen and women across the West.

Earlier this year, the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Serviced signed an agreement to implement the reauthorized Federal Lands Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA), a long-standing priority for CSF. In 2018, CSF worked with our partners to secure reauthorization of the Federal Lands Transaction Facilitation Act as part of the FY2018 Omnibus appropriations bill, delivering a significant win to sportsmen and women.

FLTFA is a modified land exchange program that facilitates strategic federal land sales by federal land management agencies to provide funding for high-priority conservation in the Western United States. Part of the FLTFA provision within the Omnibus also increases access for sportsmen and outdoor recreation. The “Inaccessible Lands Open to Public Hunting, Fishing, Recreational Shooting, or Other Recreational Purposes,” provision within FLTFA allows the Bureau of Land Management to acquire additional lands to increase public access in places where it does not currently exist.

In addition, federal agencies are required to consider the “Extent to which the acquisition of the land or interest therein will increase the public availability of resources for, and facilitate public access to hunting, fishing, and other recreational activities” when prioritizing land acquisitions under FLTFA. Federal agencies also have expanded authorities to pursue strategic acquisitions adjacent to National Forest System lands and consider priority habitats when evaluating a potential acquisition.

“FLTFA is a common-sense, bipartisan solution that will improve public land access for America’s sportsmen and women,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President and CEO Jeff Crane. “CSF was proud to work with members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus to improve FLTFA by making U.S. Forest Service access projects eligible for the program as part of our larger goal of ‘Making Public Lands Public.’ We applaud the agencies for taking this important step.

 

CSF Stands Against Financial Discrimination of Firearms Industry

Posted on Monday, February 28, 2022

Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager

  • South Dakota Senate Bill 182 & House Bill 1314 state that South Dakota will not engage in contracts with financial institutions that discriminate against the firearm and ammunition industry.
  • Currently, several large banks place unwarranted restrictions on the firearm and ammunition industry that negatively impact both the industry and the end consumer.
  • These restrictive business practices are highly concerning from a civil liberties standpoint and have the potential to create negative impacts on Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (R3) efforts and state fish and wildlife agency funding.

Why it Matters: Several large banks currently institute restrictions on the firearm and ammunition industry. Examples of such restrictions include prohibiting retailers who are customers of the banks from selling long guns to anyone under 21 years of age (despite the federal age of legal ownership being 18), ceasing loans to companies who manufacturer modern sporting rifles, and more. These restrictions impede business practices that are legal and already highly regulated. Such practices are concerning from a civil liberties standpoint and because the sale of firearms and ammunition are a vital part of our conservation funding matrix.

On February 15, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) testified before the South Dakota Committee on Commerce and Energy in support of Senate Bill 182 (SB 182). The bill would formally establish in statute that the state of South Dakota will not engage in contracts with financial institutions that discriminate against the firearm and ammunition industry unless it is vital for the financial stability of the State.

CSF has long supported bills such as this on behalf of the firearms and ammunition industries that are so important to sportsmen and women. Discriminatory practices such as those that this bill would protect against cause concern as they restrict civil liberties and could severely impact the American System of Conservation Funding, a “user pays – public benefit” funding mechanism by which those who consumptively use public resources pay for the privilege to do so. Through the Pittman-Robertson Act, excise tax revenue from firearms and ammunition, combined with the sale of hunting licenses to sportsmen and women who often utilize firearms and ammunition in their pursuits, provides a critical source of conservation funding that allow state fish and wildlife agencies to implement critical conservation efforts across the nation. Furthermore, we need to make sure that new participants can easily enter the sport to maintain this funding model.

While SB 182 did not pass out of committee, House Bill 1314, which contains the same language, recently passed out of the House Judiciary Committee, and awaits further action in the House. CSF will continue to monitor the progress of this legislation and similar legislation in other states.

 

Numerous Pro-Sportsmen Bills on the Move in Georgia

Posted on Monday, February 28, 2022

Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator

  • House Bill 1147 (HB 1147), sponsored by numerous Georgia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) members, would allow for the hunting and trapping of raccoons and opossums year-round in Georgia. HB 1147 passed the House of Representatives (House) and awaits action in the Senate.
  • House Bill 1148 (HB 1148), sponsored by numerous Caucus members, including Caucus Co-Chair Representative David Knight, strengthens Georgia’s Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) prevention strategy by prohibiting the importation and possession of certain Cervidae (deer family) carcasses or parts from out-of-state. HB 1148 passed the House and awaits action in the Senate.
  • House Bill 1349 (HB 1349), sponsored by numerous Caucus members, extends the baseline date for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) No-Net-Loss statute to protect acreage available for hunting opportunities on DNR managed state-owned lands. HB 1349 awaits action in the House.

Why it Matters: Trapping is an effective tool that aids in managing a myriad of different wildlife species. CWD is a progressive, fatal, degenerative neurological disease that occurs in farmed and free-ranging deer and has recently been confirmed in neighboring Alabama. Lastly, lack of access to hunting lands is cited as a primary reason that hunters stop participating in hunting, making the passage of No-Net-Loss legislation important to the continued tradition of hunting and fishing in the state of Georgia.

HB 1147: Racoons and opossums are notorious for negatively impact ground nesting bird populations such as turkey and quail. Allowing for the hunting and trapping of raccoons and opossums not only allows for outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the year, but it also aids in further managing highly successful nest predator populations.

HB 1148: This legislation would prohibit the importation and possession of certain Cervidae carcasses or parts from outside of the state, except for deboned meat, antlers, skulls, skull plates, teeth, or jawbones with no soft tissue attached, hides with no heads attached, and finished taxidermy. HB 1148 would strengthen Georgia’s efforts to keep Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from being introduced into the state.

HB 1349: Georgia previously passed No-Net-Loss legislation which limits the loss of access to hunting opportunity by establishing a minimum acreage of state-owned areas open to sportsmen and women. This ensures that future generations have the same opportunities tomorrow that exist today. HB 1349 would extend the baseline date from 2005 to 2022 from which the DNR managed state-owned lands acreage is measured. The DNR has acquired new Wildlife Management Areas since 2005 so it is important to update the statute to reflect the acreage currently available for hunting.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) will continue to coordinate with the DNR, as well as in-state and national partners to support these bills.

If you are interested in keeping up-to-date on legislation impacting sportsmen and women, sign up for the CSF’s Tracking the Capitols.

 

Colorado House Agriculture, Livestock, and Water Committee Unanimously Advances Hunter Education Bill

Posted on Monday, February 28, 2022

Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Rocky Mountain States Senior Coordinator

  • On Thursday, February 24, the Colorado House Agriculture, Livestock, and Water Committee passed HB22-1168 – Public School Hunter Education Seventh Grade Course – with an 11-0 vote, highlighting the immense bipartisan support for the bill.
  • HB22-1168 was passed with an amendment that would allow schools to offer hunter education to students outside of grade seven.
  • In support of HB22-1168, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation provided virtual testimony and signed onto a coalition letter with 16 other sporting-conservation organization.

Why it Matters: By giving public schools the opportunity to offer hunter education as an elective with parent approval, fewer students will be inadvertently excluded from taking hunter education based on parent work schedules or socioeconomic limitations, providing many students with a learning opportunity that they would not have had otherwise. Furthermore, hunter education can teach students and their parents about the mental and physical benefits associated with the hunting and the outdoors and directly combat the increasing prevalence of Nature Deficit Disorder in today’s youth.

As previously reported, HB22-1168 aims to allow hunter education to be offered as a public school elective. While the bill would not mandate that public schools to offer hunters education or require student participation, it would provide public schools with the option to offer it as an elective and students the opportunity to participate with parental approval.

By providing students with the opportunity to take hunters education in school, we can help restore a desire for Colorado’s youth to spend more time being active in the outdoors, proactively address grown concerns surrounding Nature Deficit Disorder with today’s youth, work to recruit new sportspeople, increase future financial contributions to state-based conservation through the American System of Conservation Funding, and teach students about the critical role that sportspeople play in conservation and the sustainability of our wildlife.

After receiving immense support for HB22-1168 from numerous individuals and organizations participating in virtual and in-person testimony including Colorado Parks and Wildlife; Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF); Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; National Shooting Sports Association; and more, the Colorado House Agriculture, Livestock, and Water Committee expressed overwhelming support for the bipartisan and bicameral bill and advanced it to the House Floor on an 11-0 vote. There was no in-person or virtual testimony provided by opponents of the bill. Ahead of the hearing, CSF also signed onto a coalition letter with 16 other outdoor sporting conservation organizations as part of the Colorado Wildlife Conservation Partnership to demonstrate our collective and enthusiastic support for HB22-1168.

CSF will keep you updated on the progress of HB22-1168 as that information is made available.

 

House Natural Resources Committee Passes Important Great Lakes Conservation Bill

Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Why it matters:  The Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Reauthorization has provided approximately $31 million in federal funding to conduct roughly 185 research, restoration, and regional conservation projects, making this program critical for fish and wildlife within the Great Lakes region. These projects include waterfowl monitoring, wetland restoration, culvert improvement, dam removal, among many other important conservation efforts, all of which are important to sportsmen and women.

On February 17, the House Natural Resources Committee passed the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Reauthorization Act of 2021, a bipartisan bill championed by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Co-Chair Representative Debbie Dingell.

The Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration (GLFWRA) Reauthorization Act seeks to reauthorize the GLFWRA program at $6 million annually through Fiscal Year 2027. Specifically, the GLFWRA program provides federal funding to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work collaboratively with states, Tribes, and federal agencies to conduct fish and wildlife restoration and conservation efforts within the Great Lakes Region. The federal funds provided through the GLFWRA program are leveraged with a non-federal 25% match for any given conservation project, which strengthens the federal funding authorized by this bill.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will urge the House of Representatives to bring this common-sense and proven bill to the floor for a final vote in the House.

 

Departments of the Interior and Agriculture Announce Application Period for Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council

Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2022

  • Last week, the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture announced the opening of an application period for the Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council, a Federal Advisory Committee dedicated to supporting and advancing our nation’s time-honored traditions of hunting, recreational shooting, and other forms of outdoor recreation.

Why it matters: The Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council is a unique opportunity for leaders in the outdoor sporting-conservation community to provide recommendations and advice directly to the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on issues that are most important to sportsmen and women.

On February 17, the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture announced the opening of a nomination period to fill membership on the previously noticed Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council.

The announcement by the Biden-Harris Administration regarding the formation of the Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council marks the fourth consecutive Presidential Administration that has developed a Federal Advisory Committee to advance wildlife conservation and hunting, recreational shooting, and outdoor recreation access opportunities.  The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) applauds the Administration for moving quickly to seek applications to this critically important Federal Advisory Committee.

Notably, representatives from CSF have served on every iteration of the Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council. Most recently, CSF President and CEO Jeff Crane served as the Chair of the Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council for the totality of the Council’s existence. Under Crane’s leadership, the Council provided over 30 recommendations to the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on a diverse array of issues ranging from wild game nutrition, access to federal lands and waters, wildlife disease, recreational shooting range construction, among other important issues to sportsmen and women.

Individuals interested in applying to the Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council should follow directions contained in the Federal Register.

 

Shotgun Calibers and Land Acquisition Legislation up for Debate in Iowa

Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Contact: Kent Keene, Senior Coordinator, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • Last week, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined partners in weighing in on Iowa House File 2370 (HF 2370) and Senate Study Bill 3134 (now Senate File 2312, SF 2312).
  • HF 2370 seeks to authorize the use of .410-bore and 28-gauge shotguns using size-10 or larger shot during turkey seasons, while Senate Study Bill 3134 seeks to cap the price that county conservation boards and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources may pay when purchasing lands in the state.
  • CSF submitted a letter of support to the Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus for HF 2370 highlighting the advances in shotshell technology and Recruitment, Retention, Reactivation (R3) benefits associated with this bill.
  • Alternatively, CSF submitted a letter of opposition to the Caucus for SSB 3134 (now SF 2312) pointing out the benefits of public lands and the potential consequences of this legislation.

Why it Matters: As legislation continues to move rapidly across the Lower Midwest and around the nation, two bills in Iowa have risen to the surface are receiving a lot of attention. Working with mission partners and members of the Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has joined to ranks of sporting-conservationists in supporting a proposed expansion of shotgun calibers during turkey season) while opposing efforts designed to impair the Department of Natural Resources’ ability to purchase additional lands that would provide public access and opportunities for sportsmen and women.

Last week, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted comment letters to members of the Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus regarding legislation currently moving in the state. These included a letter of support for House File 2370 (HF 2370 and formerly House Study Bill 609) and a letter of opposition to Senate Study Bill 3134 which has since been introduced outside of Committee as Senate File 2312(SF 2312).

HF 2370 seeks to permit .410-bore and 28-gauge shotguns using tungsten shot (sizes #10 or larger) during the state’s turkey season. Currently, only 20-gauge and larger shotguns may be used. However, thanks to advances in shotshell technology such as the development of tungsten shot, smaller and lighter-recoiling calibers can now be used to ethically and effectively harvest turkeys. At its core, HF 2370 opens the door for new hunters, particularly younger, smaller framed, or otherwise recoil-sensitive hunters, to enjoy the wonders of turkey hunting in Iowa.

SF 2312, seeks to cap the price that the Iowa DNR may pay when purchasing land. In the letter of opposition, CSF pointed out several of the issues associated with this language, including the challenges it creates as the DNR seeks to provide quality hunting and angling access for the Hawkeye State’s sportsmen and women. Proponents of this type of legislation claim to be acting on behalf of young farmers and ranchers who they believe are at a disadvantage when having to “compete” against the government to purchase land. However, this misrepresentation conflates other controversial land acquisition practices such as Eminent Domain with the willful sale of land. Here, land acquisitions are conducted with landowners who willingly chose to sell their land to the DNR, many of whom cherish the idea that their properties will be conserved for the benefit of their fellow Iowans. On the other hand, those who wish to sell their lands to beginning farmers and ranchers maintain the right to do just that, a concept that, when scrutinized, severely damages the logic on which legislation like SF 2312 is built.

Currently, HF 2370 (passed out of committee as HSB 609) awaits further action in the House of Representatives while SF 2312 (passed out of committee as SSB 3134) awaits further action in the Senate. For more information on the status of these bills, visit the Iowa Legislature’s website.

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