Policy Corner Brief: May 2020
AB 2691 – Dog Training Services and Facilities
AB 2106 – Wildlife Habitat: Nesting Bird Habitat Program
AB 3022 – Junior Hunting Licenses: Age Eligibility Requirement
AB 2299 – Free Hunting Days
Massachusetts: Committee Drops “Outside and Unattended” from Restrictive Kennel Bill
The issue of fighting excessively restrictive kennel legislation in Massachusetts has been an ongoing theme for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), as well as for other like-minded in-state and national organizations. On May 8, news broke out of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government that shined a bright light on these efforts, though much work still lies ahead.
The Committee reported out with a redrafted bill, which excluded certain language pertaining to the restrictive kennel conditions for dog owners, which was of special concern to CSF and the Bay State’s sportsmen and women. CSF submitted a letter of opposition, met with and held discussions with several members of the Massachusetts General Court, and partook in the American Kennel Club’s sign-on letter against House Bill 1822, which would have limited a dog owner’s ability to use a fenced-in yard or kennel for longer than 5 hours, while also prohibiting keeping the dog outside from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., deeming this to be “outside and unattended.” In the Committee’s redraft, such arbitrary language and conditions have been removed. However, early indications are that the revised draft will still contain many problematic sections that push forth the sentiments of animal rights interest groups.
Following the Committee’s action, the redraft will need to receive a new bill number. CSF will continue to protect and advance the ability of Massachusetts’ sportsmen and women to enjoy the time-honored tradition of hunting with dogs.
Ownership of Land by the Game and Parks Commission (LB 863)
Essentially the opposite of No-Net-Loss legislation that seeks to ensure public access opportunities are protected and increased, LB 863 sought to cap the amount of land that NGPC could own and manage for public access. In order to acquire new or additional land, NGPC would have been required to sell an equal amount of land currently owned by the Commission. On January 30, CSF submitted a letter of opposition to members of the Natural Resources Committee. In the letter, we pointed out that public lands provide crucial opportunities for those who are not fortunate enough to have access to private lands for outdoor pursuits. In this capacity, public lands, especially those near highly populated urban areas, provide a location for new hunters and anglers to become involved in outdoor pursuits, thereby serving an important role in hunter and angler recruitment, retention, and reactivation. Following the committee hearing held for LB 863, no further actions have been taken. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nebraska Legislature suspended the 2020 legislative session in March, and the session is currently scheduled to resume on July 20.
CSF Urges House Committee to Include Important Wildlife Conservation Program in Transportation Bill
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and nearly 40 other organizations sent a letter to the House Transportation Committee in support of funding for wildlife crossings to be included in a future House Transportation Bill.
The letter calls for the inclusion of wildlife crossings, including bridges, overpasses, tunnels, viaducts, culverts, fencing, and other strategic infrastructure to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reports costs associated with wildlife-vehicle collisions are upwards of $8 billion annually, and funding provided through a Transportation Bill would help mitigate the costs and impact of these collisions. Similarly, DOT reports that roughly 300,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions occur annually.
S. 2302, the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, which passed the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works unanimously, includes an innovative program to provide $250 million over five years in competitive grants to states, tribes, and local government for wildlife infrastructure projects that reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions and to improve habitat connectivity.
CSF will continue to work to secure the inclusion of similar language to S. 2302 in the House Transportation Bill.
CSF & Industry Partners Lead #ResponsibleRecreation Media Campaign
May 11, 2020 (WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), with other conservation partners such as National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Trout Unlimited, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, are leading a media campaign called #ResponsibleRecreation as an effort to encourage Americans to responsibly enjoy outdoor recreation while adhering to COVID-19 safety practices.
The conservation community is promoting the #ResponsibleRecreation campaign as a valuable way to encourage people to get outside and enjoy the outdoors as a means to cope with the current COVID-19 pandemic. Hunting, fishing, recreational shooting and other outdoor opportunities are rational ways to engage in activities in the outdoors that support mental and physical well-being while also supporting safe social distancing.
The campaign also encourages Americans to take advantage of the numerous opportunities our nation offers to recreate on public lands and waters. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, CSF and other partners have been working with governors and other state leaders to keep these viable opportunities open.
“As leading conservation organizations, it is imperative that we come together and create an initiative that bolsters activities that can support both conservation and public health and safety,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. “All of these organizations represent different recreational opportunities that positively affect conservation, and this is a powerful way to reach the wide array of stakeholders that we represent in a pragmatic fashion.”
#ResponsibleRecreation seeks to engage all stakeholders through encouraging them to enjoy the outdoors safely and responsibly. Providing opportunities for these activities also yields a way for stakeholders to contribute to conservation during this time of economic uncertainty, while also supporting small businesses that support these activities.
The guidelines outlined in this campaign for practicing #ResponsibleRecreation are aligned with the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control social distancing guidelines set forth to avoid the coronavirus. The #ResponsibleRecreation campaign is encouraging all outdoor enthusiasts to share their pursuits by using the hashtag #ResponsibleRecreation in their social media posts.
For more information about the campaign, please visit www.responsible-recreation.org .
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