Oh boy, Thanksgiving, and now for the leftovers, and giving thanks for all the grand adventures our state affords our tens of thousands of outdoorsmen.
And there’s something more this Thanksgiving.
In recent days, Congress has moved on the Sportsmen’s Act. If you’re like me and believe our American plan allows no one to claim ownership of the game and fish of our lands, then this legislative move will ensure those rights.
Sportsmen’s groups heralded the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advance of the bill titled “The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015,” and it was easy to see the motives for these major groups.
Take the American Sportfishing Association’s take.
This group representing recreational fishing interests (from boating to tackle to retailers to marinas and conservation groups) likes that the bill will serve “sportsmen and women by providing increased access to our public lands and waters and improving fish and wildlife management.”
To the point, ASA spokesman Scott Gudes said the act provides “a clear congressional declaration of policy for all federal agencies to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of recreational fishing, hunting and recreational shooting opportunities on federal lands in accordance with their missions,” and establishes, “a national ‘open unless closed’ standard for federal lands with regard to fishing and hunting access.”
Big win, right, especially when you consider all the existing and proposed marine sanctuaries that have been established by executive order rather than legislative action? This bill would counteract some of the public-access restrictions imposed by federal managers during the past decade to places like The Everglades and streams that run through federal lands in our western states.
Next, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership took a more direct tact in its appraisal of the bill’s intent. TRCP’s focus went to the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service’s actions that limited, even shutdown, access to hunters taking to federal lands in the West.
“Lack of access is one of the major barriers to sustaining our uniquely American heritage of hunting and fishing — one that powers local economies and provides local jobs,” TRCP boss Whit Fosburgh said. “We’re eager to see this legislation move forward and empower our federal land managers to make these assurances for the next generation of sportsmen and women.”
For the National Wildlife Federation CEO Collin O’Mara, the act, “is a clear win for wildlife and the national economy. ... This bill also reauthorizes programs to protect and restore fish and wildlife habitats on these lands.”
Now, the ball is in your court. Urge our congressional delegation to get behind this bill, if not for you, then for your children and grandchildren. They’ll need it.