CSF Signs onto Letter in Support of Grasslands Restoration in Tennessee
Posted on Monday, August 22, 2022
Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator
- Over the better part of the last year, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has faced increased, misguided scrutiny from the public over proposed habitat restoration efforts on state-owned lands.
- Grasslands once dominated the landscape in much of the Southeast, and now it is estimated that over 90% of grasslands in the South have been lost due to changes in land use and land management practices.
- On August 15, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) signed onto a letter, authored by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF), to the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission in support of the TWRA’s continued efforts to restore grassland habitats in Tennessee.
Why It Matters: With the increasing loss of grassland habitats, many popular game and non-game wildlife species are experiencing negative effects due to lack of habitat diversity on the landscape, resulting in a loss of opportunity for sportsmen and women.
With decreasing levels of active forest management on public lands in the South, we are seeing the negative impacts that passive management has on habitat diversity. Many wildlife species require a diversity of habitats to thrive. For example, wild turkeys utilize closed canopy mixed pine/oak forests where minimal sunlight reaches the forest floor, resulting in little undergrowth. However, grassland habitats, which contain a minimal number of trees and receives sunlight throughout the day, are also critical for wild turkeys due to their importance in successful brood rearing. The vast number of insects to feed on, ease of travel, and the adequate cover that grasslands provide are critical for wild turkey poults. Both habitats are important, and both must be recognized for the value they bring to biodiversity on the landscape.
The TWRA recognizes the need to restore grasslands on many state-owned Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), but they have experienced pushback from some interest groups that are opposed to the timber management necessary to restore grasslands.
CSF, TWF, and many other conservation organizations understand the importance of grasslands supporting robust and diverse wildlife populations and wildlife-associated recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women.
CSF will continue to work alongside our partners to support the TWRA’s efforts to conduct science-based habitat management projects
Dove Season Marks the Beginning of Hunting Season for Sportsmen and Sportswomen in Midwest
Posted on Monday, August 29, 2022
- Dove hunting seasons often marks the official beginning of fall hunting seasons for many across the Midwest.
- As one of the most challenging wing shooting opportunities faced by sportsmen and sportswomen, dove hunting serves as a great primer for future bird hunting seasons.
- Despite the challenging nature, dove hunting requires relatively little equipment and represents a fantastic opportunity to introduce new hunters to our outdoor heritage.
- Where available, beginning hunters can also utilize apprentice hunting opportunities to try dove hunting before completing their formal hunter education.
Why It Matters: With a relatively laid-back nature compared to other hunting opportunities, dove hunting is an enjoyable way to introduce a beginner to the world of wing shooting. After honing skills at the sporting clays range, dove hunting, especially when utilizing one of the many apprentice hunting opportunities available in several midwestern states, represents a great next step in the recruitment of the current and future generations of sportsmen and women, a top priority for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF).
September is approaching quickly, and with it comes the start of fall hunting seasons. For many a wing shooter, this beginning manifests in the form of dove season. Depending on where you are in the region, you may have the opportunity to pursue several different species of the fast-flying migrants. However, regardless of species, there is no doubt that dove hunting represents one of the most challenging wing shooting opportunities – and therefore an appropriate warmup for future bird hunting seasons – available to sportsmen and sportswomen.
Although it does require a decent level of wing shooting skills, dove hunting is relatively simplistic. Requiring little more than a shotgun, an abundance of ammunition (pat yourself on the back for supporting the “user pays — public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding), and a positive attitude, dove hunting’s simple nature represents a great opportunity to introduce a beginner to wing shooting. Just make sure that you check your state fish and wildlife agency’s website for any ammunition restrictions and the required licenses.
One thing of note for new hunters, many states allow beginner hunter to participate under the supervision of a licensed hunter prior to completing their hunter education through an apprentice hunting license program. Apprentice licenses, a concept that CSF has worked to support throughout the country, represents a “try it before you buy it” introduction to hunting, which can open the door for those who may be hesitant to pursue their hunter education. Now available in some form in 47 states, apprentice hunting licenses, especially when combined with fun and exciting opportunities like dove hunting, are a great way to recruit new hunters to our outdoor sporting community. Good luck to all the dove hunters heading to the field in the next couple weeks and remember to introduce somebody new every chance you get!
California Firearm and Ammunition Tax Bill Fails As Legislative Session Adjourns
Posted on Tuesday, September 06, 2022
Contact: Keely Hopkins, Manager, Pacific States & Firearm Policy
- The 2022 California Legislative Session adjourned sine die on August 31, marking the final defeat of Assembly Bill 1227 that would have imposed a 10-11% tax on firearm and ammunition sales in the state.
- In a last ditch effort to garner additional votes, bill proponents amended the legislation in the final days of the session to include an exemption for individuals purchasing certain long guns if they possessed a valid hunting license.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) actively opposed this legislation and has been working with national and in-state coalition partners in opposition to this bill since its introduction in 2021.
Why It Matters: California’s law-abiding hunters and shooters have long played a vital role in funding conservation and wildlife management efforts throughout the state. Under the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays — public benefits” structure, California’s sportsmen and women generate tens of millions of dollars each year for the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. These funds are generated through license sales and an 11% federal excise tax on sporting-related goods, including firearms and ammunition. Decreased firearm and ammunition purchases that result from additional taxes and costs would have a negative impact on conservation funding in the state.
The Firearm and Ammunition Tax Bill has once again been defeated with the adjournment of the California legislative session on August 31. After a rollercoaster of procedural maneuvers and last minute amendments, prospective firearm purchasers in California can breath a sigh of relief… at least when it comes to Assembly Bill 1227. Despite their efforts to garner additional votes by amending the legislation to include an exemption for certain long gun purchases by individuals with a valid hunting license, the proposal to impose a 10-11% tax on firearm and ammunition sales failed to advance before sine die.
The Firearm and Ammunition Tax Bill, originally AB 1223, was introduced during the 2021 legislative session and was allegedly designed to “mirror” the federal excise tax paid by sportsmen and women to fund conservation efforts via the Pittman-Robertson Act. The revenue in this case, however, would not be used to fund conservation and would instead go to a program that aids the effects of illegal criminal activity. This bill was defeated on the floor during the 2021 session, but proponents of the bill used procedural maneuvers to add an “urgency clause” to the legislation, which exempted the bill from regular deadlines and rules, and allowed it to be to be carried over to the 2022 session. Having not received a floor vote by the January 31, 2022 deadline, the proposal should have been defeated for the biennial session, yet proponents once again maneuvered their proposal forward by commandeering AB 1227 through a “gut and amend” tactic.
Each year, California’s sportsmen and women contribute tens of millions of dollars to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, providing vital revenue to help carry out their mission of managing the state’s diverse fish and wildlife, and the habitats upon which they depend. These funds are generated through fishing and hunting license sales, and also through the purchase of sporting-related goods. Under the Pittman-Robertson Act, California’s hunters and recreational shooters pay a 10-11% excise tax on all firearm and ammunition purchases, which in turn funds a large portion of the state’s wildlife management, conservation, and research efforts. AB 1227, if passed, would have placed an additional tax on top of the existing taxes, thereby driving up the costs of these goods, reducing their sales, and in turn, reducing the conservation funding from which all California residents enjoy.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation opposed the proposed tax since its introduction, testifying before both Assembly committees and joining coalition partners in submitting several opposition letters. Unfortunately, several bills impacting recreational shooting and the shooting sports did pass the legislature this year, including AB 2571, that restricts the promotion of firearms to minors in California. CSF has since joined several partners organizations in a legal challenge against the new law and will continue to keep you updated on the status of the lawsuit.
CSF Leads Effort to Support 85 Years of the Pittman-Robertson Act, Joined by 45 Partner Organizations
Posted on Tuesday, September 06, 2022
- Last week, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and 45 of the nation’s leading hunting, recreational shooting, and other conservation organizations published an informational document celebrating 85 years of unparalleled success of the Pittman-Robertson Act.
- The Pittman-Robertson Act directs manufacturer-level excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment to fund state-based programs that directly benefits the industries financing the program, our wildlife resources, and the American public at large.
- To date, the Pittman-Robertson Act has provided more than $15 billion to state fish and wildlife agencies since 1937, including $1.1 billion in FY22 alone – making the Pittman-Robertson Act the most successful wildlife conservation funding program in the world.
Why It Matters: The Pittman-Robertson Act is a celebrated partnership in support of conservation, our hunting and recreational shooting heritage, and our firearms rights. The Pittman-Robertson Act emboldens our ability to exercise our recreational shooting rights and our hunting heritage. It is through this “user pays – public benefits” structure in which those who use the resource pay for the privilege, and in some cases the right, to do so. Simply put, the Pittman-Robertson Act is the most impactful program for our sportsmen and women, firearms enthusiasts, and wildlife in this country.
On August 31, CSF was joined by 45 sporting-conservation partners in the development of an information document to celebrate 85 years of the Pittman-Robertson Act – the lynchpin to our hunting and recreational shooting heritage.
Enacted in 1937 at the request of hunters and recreational shooters, the Pittman-Robertson (P-R) Act directs manufacturer level and supported excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment to be used for wildlife conservation purposes and programs to increase access for hunting and target shooting. Since that time, the P-R Act has served has the lifeblood of most state fish and wildlife agencies and continues to be heralded as the most successful conservation program in the world.
It is important to recognize that approximately 80% of the funding under the Pittman-Robertson Act is generated from recreational target shooters. In recognition of this, the P-R Act is one of the most critical sources of funding for the development of shooting ranges. For example, over 1,500 public shooting ranges have been developed or improved since 2014, enhancing opportunities for the public to exercise their firearms rights and enjoy our shooting heritage.
The success of the Pittman-Robertson Act is unmatched in the world. It is through this program that iconic species such as wild turkey, white-tailed deer, and other species that are cherished by sportsmen and women that were once on the brink are now thriving. In the 1930s, white-tailed deer were estimated at fewer than 500,000, however thanks to the research and management programs funded by the Pittman-Robertson Act, white-tailed deer now number nearly 30 million.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is proud to support and celebrate the Pittman-Robertson Act and its benefits as the most important program in the nation for America’s sportsmen and women and firearm enthusiasts. The Pittman-Robertson Act has generated 85 years of equity for our nation’s 55 million sportsmen and women, and CSF will continue our unwavering support for this program.
USDA APHIS Reverses Faulty Decision, Will Allow Importation of Game Bird Meat from Canada
Posted on Monday, September 12, 2022
- Earlier today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued an announcement that reverses the previous decision to prohibit the importation of unprocessed game bird meat from Canada.
- Less than two weeks ago, APHIS announced they were going to prohibit the importation of unprocessed game bird meat with the intention of reducing the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (avian flu) without conducting a risk assessment study.
- Following the prohibition announcement, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and our partners, including Canada’s Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus, worked to see this short-sighted decision reversed.
Why It Matters: One day after waterfowl seasons opened in many Canadian provinces, APHIS issued an announcement on Friday, September 2 around 6:30 pm eastern leading up to the Labor Day holiday weekend, that banned the importation of game bird from Canada. This decision was not rooted in science, however, the announcement by APHIS to rescind this decision is welcome news.
Earlier today, the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued an announcement that reverses the previous decision to prohibit the importation of unprocessed game bird meat from Canada.
Less than two weeks ago, leading up to the Labor Day holiday weekend, APHIS published an announcement that effectively prohibited the importation of unprocessed game bird meat from Canada. Compounding the timing of the announcement is the fact that APHIS has not conducted a risk assessment study of how these restrictions would help reduce the spread of avian flu. Additionally, the APHIS announcement fails to recognize the fact that millions of waterfowl and other game birds migrate from Canada to the United States each year.
Following the original prohibition announcement, CSF coordinated with many of our partners to urge APHIS to rescind this decision. CSF also worked with Canada’s Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus, a caucus that closely mirrors the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, to urge APHIS to reverse this decision. As a result, the Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus sent a letter to USDA that stated “This decision will have a severe negative economic impact on tourism, guide and outfitter industries across Canada that are just beginning to recover from the devastating impacts of COVID border restrictions”.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is grateful to see APHIS reverse their original short-sighted decision that lacked a scientific justification and would have caused significant impacts on Canadian guides as well as American hunters, who were already hunting when the decision was first announced.
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