Senate Passes Sportsmen’s Act Provisions as part of Energy Reform Bill

ASA_Logo_LrgVersions of the Sportsmen’s Act have now passed both the House and Senate

Alexandria, VA – April 21, 2016 – A set of legislative provisions that will benefit recreational fishing and hunting – and have a positive impact on natural resource conservation – yesterday passed the U.S. Senate by a vote of 85-12 as part of a comprehensive Energy Policy Modernization Act (S. 2012).

The U.S. Senate approved amendment #3234, offered by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), which consisted of several provisions found in the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015.

Included in the final bill were:

  • Authorizing the National Fish Habitat Partnership program
  • Requiring certain public lands to be open for recreational fishing and hunting unless specifically closed through an open and public process
  • Requiring a portion of Land and Water Conservation Funds be made available for the improvement of recreational access to federal lands
  • Reauthorizing the Federal Land Transfer Facilitation Act
  • Reauthorizing the North American Wetland Conservation Act

“We are very pleased with the Senate’s action and thank Sens. Murkowski and Cantwell for their leadership in seeing this through,” said Scott Gudes, vice president of Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “This marks a major step forward in our multi-year long effort to pass legislation to enhance recreational fishing and hunting opportunities. While what passed was not the complete Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015, it is significant progress and gets us very close to enactment of these key provisions.”

Originally sponsored by Sens. Murkowski, Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 is a package of bills that would benefit our nation’s sportsmen and women by providing increased access to our public lands and waters; improving fish and wildlife management; and protecting the use of traditional fishing tackle. The provisions that were included in S. 2012 were largely taken from the portion of the Sportsmen’s Act that was passed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“ASA and its partners have strived for years to secure reliable recreational access and quality habitat for sportsmen and women,” added Gudes. “It’s been a long road, but the journey isn’t over. More work is needed to ensure these, and the remaining parts of the Sportsmen’s Act, are made into law.”

“In particular, ASA wants to highlight the significance of including language to authorize and strengthen the National Fish Habitat Partnership program,” said Mike Leonard, ASA’s Ocean Resource Policy director and a National Fish Habitat Partnership board member. “This successful program has already helped to restore and conserve fisheries habitat across the country, creating improved recreational fishing opportunities. In addition to the lead sponsors of the Sportsmen’s Act, Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) also deserve credit for championing this legislative language and working to support its inclusion in the Energy Bill amendment.”

With portions of the Sportsmen’s Act having now passed in the Senate and a complete version having passed the House of Representatives through the SHARE Act (H.R. 2406) on February 26, the recreational fishing community looks optimistically toward Congress conferencing the Senate and House-passed measures and the President signing them into law.