Lawmakers Introduce Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015
OutdoorHub Reporters 02.06.15
On Thursday, US Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) introduced the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015. Like previous versions, the act includes a number of provisions that will protect the rights of hunters and anglers and expand access in federal lands.
“The number one issue for sportsmen and women across the country is access. This widely supported, bipartisan bill will open more areas to hunting and fishing and grow America’s thriving outdoor recreation economy,” said Heinrich in a press release. “Hunters and anglers alone spend more than $465 million per year in New Mexico, and outdoor recreation as a whole is directly responsible for 68,000 jobs in our state. As an avid hunter myself, I remain deeply committed to preserving our outdoor heritage and treasured public lands for future generations to enjoy.”
Last year, the 2014 iteration of the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act failed in the US Senate despite being supported by both Republicans and Democrats. The failure of the bill was widely criticized by conservation organizations, such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), which expected the bill to pass the Senate by a wide margin.
“There is no such thing as a slam dunk in the legislative arena but this certainly had all the makings of one after Monday’s 82-12 procedural vote,” Mark Holyoak, director of communications for the RMEF, told OutdoorHub last July. “Then the wheels came off. We are really disappointed for sportsmen and women because they are the biggest losers—by far!”
The 2015 version of the Sportsmen’s Act contains many of the same provisions, including measures that will protect the public’s right to hunt, fish, and shoot on federal lands. The act will also improve public access, increase funds for conservation efforts, and protect traditional ammunition and fishing gear from being banned under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Co-sponsoring the bill are Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), and Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska).
“Being from Alaska, I’m lucky,” Murkowski said in a separate press release. “Our hunting and fishing is top-notch. We learn to love the ‘great outdoors’ very early on in the Last Frontier. We know how to enjoy it today, and we’re committed to making sure that future generations have the same great opportunities. The bipartisan legislation we introduced today will help ensure that our grandchildren have the same opportunities to hunt and fish as we did growing up.”