In a bipartisan vote, the United States House of Representatives passed the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act (H.R. 3590), with a vote of 268-154. The legislation includes critical protections for journalists who cover wildlife conservation, public lands issues and outdoor recreation.

The SHARE Act has been a top priority of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) and is a legislative milestone for the sportsmen’s community. CSC Co-Chairs, Representatives Bob Latta and Bennie Thompson and Vice-Chairs, Representatives Rob Wittman and Tim Walz, introduced the SHARE Act as a bipartisan package of pro-sportsmen’s legislation in an effort to continue to safeguard and promote America’s hunting and angling traditions.

“The Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) has been working with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), CSC, individual legislators and numerous other journalists organizations like the American Society of Media Photographers to see this legislation through,” said Laurie Lee Dovey, POMA CEO and executive director.

“The portion of the bill addressing filming on public lands by individual journalists and small film crews eliminates unfair and even unconstitutional treatment of journalists who attempt to travel onto public lands to cover America’s natural resources and the recreation that takes place on public lands.”

Currently, the government is charging individuals and small crews exorbitant fees to film or photograph on public lands. In come cases, journalists are being denied access altogether. Dovey said the bill offers a resolution that is fair to both journalists and the government. She also commended the CSC for its important bipartisan efforts.

H.R. 3590 includes eight standalone pro-sportsmen’s titles that will ensure our outdoor traditions are protected and advanced, and addresses some of the most current concerns of American hunters and recreational anglers and shooters.

The section that addresses the filming on public lands issue is Title III – Public Lands Filming (H.R. 2798) . This section directs the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture, for any film crew of five persons or fewer, to require a permit and assess an annual fee of $200 for commercial filming activities or similar projects on federal lands and waterways administered by the Secretary. This prohibits the Secretary, for persons holding such a permit, from assessing any additional fee for commercial filming activities and similar projects that occur in those areas during those hours.

CSF President Jeff Crane applauded the CSC’s bipartisan cooperation in advancing the SHARE Act in the 113th Congress. “I thank the bipartisan House leadership of the CSC for introducing this vital legislation and for getting it passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. The passage of the SHARE Act is a great victory for sportsmen and women as it will ensure that our heritage is protected for generations to come.”

Priorities addressed in the SHARE Act include: protecting the traditional use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle by American hunters and anglers, the potential increase of Pittman-Robertson funds for shooting ranges, the permanent authorization of the electronic duck stamp, importation of legally hunted polar bears, and helping facilitate the use of and access to Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands and waters for hunting, recreational fishing and shooting. It also prohibits the enforcement of individual firearm regulations at water resources development projects administered by the Corps of Engineers, and prohibits additional fees for commercial filming on federal lands and waterways.

In addition, this legislation will also permanently establish the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on wildlife and habitat conservation, hunting and recreational shooting.

On December 3, 2013, the House CSC leadership sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives, asking for support of H.R. 3590. CSF and 35 other sportsmen’s conservation groups also showed their support for the SHARE Act as a commonsense piece of legislation that protects and advances our sportsmen’s heritage.

Also working with CSF in Washington, D.C. to help pass H.R. 3590 were: Safari Club International, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Rifle Association, the Boone & Crockett Club and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, who are also POMA Corporate Partner members.

CSC Leadership voiced their support for the SHARE Act:

CSC Co-Chair, Rep. Bob Latta

“As Co-Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, I am honored to have sponsored H.R. 3590, and I am pleased that the House came together in a bipartisan fashion today to support America’s sportsmen and sportswomen. Our hunting and fishing communities are economic engines in this country, contributing $90 billion to the economies of small communities and cities across the nation in 2011 alone, and have helped fuel the future of conservation. There are no better stewards of our natural resources than our sportsmen and sportswomen, and today’s passage of the SHARE Act will ensure these men and women can continue our country’s rich hunting legacy for years to come.”

CSC Co-Chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson

“The SHARE act promotes the interest of hunters, anglers, and sport shooters across the nation.  This bill will foster greater hunting and fishing participation which will have a significant economic impact on many communities.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to advance this legislation.”

CSC Vice-Chair, Rep. Rob Wittman

“As a sportsman, I am humbled to advocate for this community and help introduce this legislation to advance priorities of American anglers, hunters and conservationists. This common sense package will expand opportunities for recreation, support fair treatment and modernize programs for sportsmen, and includes a proposal I authored to allow migratory waterfowl hunters to purchase their annual Federal duck stamp online.”

CSC Vice-Chair, Rep. Tim Walz

“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. 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.”

CSF also vows to continue work with its bipartisan partners in the CSC to advance these sportsmen’s priorities through Congress.

Logo courtesy Professional Outdoor Media Association

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