Approval this week by the U.S. House of Representatives of the Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47) clears the legislation, previously approved in the Senate, for President Donald Trump’s signature.
S. 47 was introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) last December as the previous Congressional session was winding down. The bill facilitates hundreds of individuals land conservation efforts and permanently reauthorizes the Land & Water Conservation Fund.
The bill also contains provisions to advance or protect America’s hunting heritage. Some of these provisions were elements of the Sportsmen’s Heritage & Recreational Enhancement Act, or SHARE Act, that SCI and many hunting groups have been working to enact in successive Congresses since February of 2012.
Previous iterations of the SHARE Act included provisions allowing polar bear importations from Canada and modernization of the Endangered Species Act to allow greater State control of gray wolf populations, including the delisting of the Western Great Lakes wolf population.
While these provisions are not included in S. 47, SCI supports other pro-hunting measures that are part of this major natural resources package. S. 47 will authorize the National Park Service (NPS) to use qualified volunteer hunters in wildlife control programs and will allow hunters to transport bows through National Park System lands. S. 47 will also require that Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service lands to be opened for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting unless specifically closed.
The bill expresses strong support for hunting and access to hunting on federal lands. The Sportsmen’s Access title (Title 4) states that it is the “policy of the United States” that agencies facilitate expansion of hunting, fishing and recreational shooting opportunities on Federal land. Further, it directs the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior to develop strategies for opening areas where hunting, fishing and other recreational activities are allowed but cannot be reasonably accessed.
One final SHARE Act provision included in S. 47 is the Open Book to Equal Access provision to discourage lawsuit abuse by radical anti-hunting groups by creating more transparency of attorney’s fee awards.