Policy Corner Brief: October 2020
America’s Conservation Enhancement Act (S. 3051) Passes Congress, another Policy Win for Sportsmen and Women
On October 1, the U.S. House of Representatives built off the historic passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, and other conservation victories in the 116th Congress, by passing America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act (S. 3051), on a voice vote, making this Congress one of the most impactful for sportsmen and women in a lifetime.
The ACE Act, which was led by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members Senators John Barrasso and Tom Carper and cosponsored by CSC Leaders Senators Martin Heinrich and John Boozman, passed the Senate unanimously for the second time this Congress exactly two weeks ago. The near-universal support for the ACE Act is in large part due to the efforts of the bipartisan CSC as well as strong support from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF). The ACE Act includes approximately a dozen provisions including a number of long-standing priorities for CSF such as:
- Reauthorizing the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) at $60 million annually for a period of 5 years;
- Prohibiting the EPA from regulating the use of lead fishing tackle for a period of 5 years;
- Establishing a task force within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to combat Chronic Wasting Disease;
- Congressionally authorizing the National Fish Habitat Partnership at $7.2 million annually for a period of 5 years;
- Reauthorizing the Chesapeake Bay Program starting at $90 million and increasing to $92 million over a 5-year period;
- Among others
“Passage of the ACE Act builds upon the already historic accomplishments achieved during the 116th Congress. Collectively, these policies will secure more access to public lands that hunters and anglers use most and benefit our nation’s natural resources for generations to come,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. “CSF commends CSC leaders for recognizing the priorities of sportsmen and women, the needs of fish and wildlife, and for remaining steadfast in their commitment to passing this legislation.”
The ACE Act builds off of momentum generated earlier this Congress with the passage and enactment of the Dingell Act, the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act, and most recently the historic Great American Outdoors Act.
CSF has been actively engaged in the enactment of significant pro-sporting conservation legislation throughout the 116th Congress by working with members of the CSC and partners in the community.
The ACE Act now heads to the President’s desk and CSF is working to ensure this legislation is signed into law.
CSF Submits Second Round of Comments in Hopes of Sending Proposed Trapping Regulations to the Idaho Legislature for Approval
On September 23, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a second letter in support of regulations proposed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), including the establishment of additional limitations on dry ground sets using body-gripping traps and an effort to simplify the rules associated with the use of bait for trapping furbearing and predatory animals.
As discussed in detail in a previous article, CSF supports the proposed rule defining allowances for the use of bait and trap placement for furbearing animals and predatory wildlife, including placement of traps over or near naturally killed big game species as long as the carcass was undisturbed, and the use of legally collected road-killed animals as bait. Such allowances will help increase the probability of successful harvest and sportsmen’s ability to assist in effective wildlife population control and management of predatory and furbearing wildlife, and bring uniformity and consistency across trapping regulations.
Additionally, CSF supports the Idaho trapping community’s effort to preemptively address concerns surrounding body-gripping traps and applauds its effort to work with IDFG towards viable solutions that maintain the Department’s ability to utilize the tools necessary to reach defined wildlife management objectives and reduce impact on non-target species.
Based off of the results of this second public comment period, the Fish and Game Commission will decide whether or not to forward these rules to the Idaho legislature for approval. The proposed rules must be approved by the legislature before they can take effect.
New Legislation in North Dakota Could Create a Useful Tool or Limit Access
September 22, North Dakota’s Office of Legislative Council pre-filed ND D 196 in preparation for the 2021 legislative session. The bill pertains to trespass laws in the state which have been a topic of discussion for the last few years. Currently in North Dakota, private land is open to hunting unless otherwise posted. This has been a big draw for hunters across the country looking to take advantage of North Dakota’s diverse hunting opportunities. For the most part, they have been welcomed with open arms. This new legislation has the potential to make it both easier for landowners to post land and for sportsmen to identify private land as either open or closed to hunting.
As the law reads today, the landowner must post “signs alongside the public highway or the land giving notice that hunting is not permitted on the land…and [signage] must be placed conspicuously not more than eight hundred eighty yards apart. As to land entirely enclosed by a fence or other enclosure, posting of signs at or on all gates through the fence or enclosure constitutes a posting of all the enclosed land.”
The proposed change would allow the land owner to “designate the land as posted or closed to hunting in an online database or other electronic application maintained or authorized by the state and available to the public which identifies whether the land is available to hunters.”
This proposed change will give landowners an additional option to post their land electronically, but it will also give hunters the ability to easily identify lands that are open to hunting while pre-planning their hunting trips in the Peace Garden State.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has worked with members of the North Dakota Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, the Governor’s office, and the North Dakota Game & Fish Department to ensure that sportsmen and women’s voices are heard on this issue. CSF is committed to protecting and expanding access not only in North Dakota, but across all fifty states.
South Carolina Apprentice Hunting License Legislation Signed into Law
On September 28, Governor Henry McMaster signed legislation into law that expands the apprentice hunting license program.
House Bill 3800 passed the Senate on September 17 after the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and partners in the Families Afield coalition worked with the South Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) to support the legislation’s advancement in the upper chamber. The bill previously passed the House on April 3, 2019, and the bill’s movement during the special session that was focused on budget and COVID-19 related items is a significant win for the sportsmen’s community.
Sponsored by Caucus Member Representative Bobby Cox, the legislation (effective 60 days after the Governor’s approval) will remove the limitation on the number of apprentice hunting licenses that a person may purchase. Currently, individuals are prohibited from purchasing more than one apprentice hunting license. As an important tool for recruiting novice hunters, apprentice licenses provide newcomers with an opportunity to hunt on a “try-before-you-buy” basis under the supervision of an experienced and licensed hunter.
“I’m proud that this important bill for recruiting the next generation of hunters was signed into law, and I would like to thank my colleagues in the Caucus for supporting the legislation,” said Rep. Bobby Cox.
CSF would again like to express our sincere appreciation to the members of the Caucus, particularly Senator Chip Campsen and Representative Bobby Cox for their work championing this important legislation.
California Governor Newsom Issues 30×30 Executive Order
On October 7, California Governor Gavin Newsom released a “30×30” Executive Order directing the California Natural Resources Agency to conserve 30% of California’s lands and coastal waters by the year 2030.
The release of the Executive Order follows on the heels of a similar policy that failed in the State Legislature during the 2020 session, Assembly Bill 3030 (AB 3030). The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) took an “oppose unless amended” position on the legislation throughout the session because of concerns that the bill’s broad sweeping language could result in unnecessary and potentially unintended closures to hunting and fishing access.
The Executive Order addressed many of the concerns and included key proposed amendments from the hunting and fishing community that AB 3030 lacked. The Executive Order calls for “conserving” rather than ambiguously “protecting” lands and waters, it provides for a diverse stakeholder engagement process which includes participation of hunting and fishing organizations, and it requires a baseline assessment of its currently protected lands. The hunting community issued a statement recognizing Governor Newsom’s inclusion of these sportsmen’s priorities and confirming our community’s dedication to conserving California’s natural resources for the enjoyment of all outdoor enthusiasts for generations to come.
When conservation becomes preservation, the hunting and fishing community is often the first to be adversely affected through diminished access resulting from closures, despite being the largest financial contributors to state-based conservation efforts. CSF remains committed to protecting Californians’ ability to hunt and fish and will be actively engaged in the stakeholder process to develop and implement the regulatory framework of 30×30 in the Golden State.
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