USSA Director Testifies Before Congress on Federal Lands Bill

Protection of fishing, hunting, and shooting on our National Forests and public lands is assured by H.R. 2834 (the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act), the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Director of Federal Affairs Bill Horn told Congress on September 9.

Horn, who testified before the House Natural Resources Committee, spoke in support of the bill while explaining the details. He revealed how H.R. 2834 would solve several public land access problems for anglers, hunters, trappers, and shooters.

"Continued silence in the law regarding the legitimacy and contributory role of fishing and hunting on Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands will ultimately cause the loss of these activities on over 400 million acres of our public lands," stated Horn. "This silence must be corrected, and H.R. 2834 does precisely that. It plainly recognizes fishing, hunting and shooting as legitimate and important activities on Forest and BLM lands. It directs the agencies to exercise their discretion, consistent with the other applicable law, to facilitate fishing, hunting and shooting."

Horn, who is a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, also noted that frivolous lawsuits, various court rulings, and even agency actions have resulted in hunting and fishing being restricted or closed on public lands. H.R. 2834 would make those activities essential uses of those public lands and guide managers to exercise an "open until closed" philosophy. This would save millions of dollars of administrative expense and insulate fishing and hunting from unwarranted indirect attacks.

H.R. 2834 is modeled after the 1997 Refuge System Improvement Act that was championed by the U. S. Sportsmen's Alliance. That legislation ultimately helped keep open fishing and hunting on the National Wildlife Refuge System and was an important part of the winning argument that protected hunting on more than 60 Refuge units that anti-hunting groups had tried to close.

USSA has been urging Congress to pass legislation comparable to H.R. 2834 since 1998. Critics dismissed earlier bills as "solutions in search of a problem," but during the past decade the sporting community has recognized that there is a problem. Legal challenges, requests for environmental impact studies, and other tactics by anti-hunting and animal rights groups have threatened fishing and hunting on federal lands. H.R. 2834 will block these threats.

Groups joining the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance in this public lands bill effort include: the American Fisheries Society, American Sportfishing Association, B.A.S.S. LLC, Congressional Sportsmen Foundation, National Rifle Association, and Safari Club International.

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