On Wednesday the US House of Representatives voted 268-154 to approve legislation that protects sportsmen’s rights and provides greater opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting. The Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act of 2013 includes a number of benefits to outdoorsmen, including greater access to federal lands and funds to create and enhance public shooting ranges. The act will also protect traditional lead ammo and fishing tackle from EPA regulation and establish the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on wildlife, hunting, conservation, and shooting-related issues.

“The SHARE Act will help ensure that our nation’s outdoor traditions are preserved, protected and promoted. This bipartisan legislation addresses many key priorities for American hunters and recreational shooters and its passage by the House represents a significant accomplishment for the sportsmen’s community and for America,” said Lawrence Keane, senior vice preisdent at the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Many conservation and sportsmen’s organizations have voiced their support of the SHARE Act, and commended House members for passing the legislation.

“As an avid outdoorsman, I’m proud of this historic legislation that will increase access to the outdoors and ensure our strong hunting heritage is preserved for generations to come,” Vice-chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Tim Walz said in a statement. “The SHARE Act is based upon one fact; sportsmen and women are some of our nation’s most effective conservationists. This legislation will work to promote this simple fact by increasing access to the outdoors and funding common sense conservation practices.”

The SHARE Act has been a major priority for the CSC, in fact, it was CSC co-chairman and Congressman Bob Latta (R-Ohio) who sponsored the Act. After the Act passed the House, Latta stated that he was both honored to work on the act and pleased that lawmakers came together in a bipartisan fashion to approve it.

The act does have its critics. Animal rights groups claim that lead ammo is detrimental to wildlife, such as the California condor. Last year California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that would make lead ammunition illegal to use for hunting. Hunters’ rights advocates dispute whether lead ammunition actually harms wildlife and says that nonlead ammunition is both pricier and harder to procure.

The SHARE Act will also give gun owners more access to federally-managed land, a provision that is supported by the NRA.

“Hunting is part of our unique American heritage and the NRA is committed to preserving it,” said Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.

The NRA further stated that the SHARE Act will protect the heritage of American hunters, who contribute $1.6 billion annually to conservation and help create 680,000 jobs across the nation. The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Image from pocketwiley on the flickr Creative Commons

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