House Passes Historic Sportsman/Conservation Legislation

by Jim Shepherd

It seems appropriate on the 237th anniversary of Paul Revere's ride that we announce the House of Representatives' passage of a huge block of legislation known as the Sportsman's Heritage Act of 2012.

H.R. 4089 is actually the compilation of four bills, all designed to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing and shooting:

H.R. 1558 amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to prevent this (and future) administrations from using the Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate the rights of hunters, shooters and anglers to use "traditional ammunition and fishing tackle". In essence, the bill clarifies the EPA's lack of authority when it comes to regulating, shot, bullets, and other ammunition components or sport fishing components.

H.R. 3440 the "Recreational Shooting Protection Act" prevents a ban on recreational shooting on BLM lands nationwide. Further, it directs the BLM to manage national monument land in a way that "supports, promotes, and enhances recreational shooting.

H.R. 2834 the "Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act recognizes the rightful place of recreational hunting, fishing and shooting on Federal lands; it supports Executive Order 13443, directs Federal land management agencies to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting on Federal lands; ensures sound scientific management of wildlife and habitat; establishes an "open unless closed" policy for recreational hunting, fishing and shooting on lands managed by the US Forest Service and the BLM.

The fourth bill, H.R. 991, amends the Marine Mammal Protection Act by authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to issue importation permits to hunters for polar bear trophies taken before the polar bear was designated as threatened.

An amendment clarifying that the protection given hunting and fishing in wilderness areas is not intended to permit motorized recreation or mineral extraction was also passed. Three other amendments, opposed on the grounds they would "gut" the pro-sportsmen legislation, were pretty soundly defeated.

Yesterday, the a coalition of more than thirty outdoor organizations was doing everything possible to mobilize their constituents to let Congress know the Sportsman's Heritage Act of 2012 was important.

Today, they're celebrating the 274 to 146 passage, despite it having been pretty much a partisan vote. Members of the non-partisan Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, responsible for much of the legislation, however, are celebrating across party lines.

"I think it is important to recognize the contributions that sportsmen make to protect our nation's most precious resources," said CSC co-chair Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL), "We must remain ever diligent to ensure the rights of sportsmen...H.R. 4089 will be able to address some of the most pressing concerns the outdoor community faces."
CSC Co-Chair Mike Ross says the passage is the "product of the coordinated efforts of the bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus."

CSF President Jeff Crane simply calls the passage "unprecedented".

Others from a coalition of more than 30 outdoor groups are also offering congratulations. Lawrence G. Keane, the NSSF's Senior VP and General Counsel joined in the congratulatory chorus, praising Miller for "protecting and preserving America's hunting and shooting heritage."

SCI President Kevin Anderson says that, "by passing this legislation, Congress has helped protect our hunting heritage for the future outdoorsmen and women."

"H.R. 4089 is a significant step for hunters and recreational shooters in our country," says Chris W. Cox, executive director for NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. "This bill prevents the Obama administration from eliminating the right of hunters and shooters to use traditional ammunition. We must expand and enhance hunting and shooting on Federal lands to ensure that hunting is accessible to all - and this bill does just that."

"H.R. 4089 spells out in plain language that hunting, fishing and recreational shooting are legitimate uses of federal public lands, said U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance president and CEO Bud Pidgeon, and that these lands are open, as a matter of law, to these traditional activities."

Pidgeon also said the legislation makes it "crystal clear that the U.S. EPA does not have the authority to restrict American's choices of ammunition and fishing tackle."

Republished from The Outdoor Wire.

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