February/March Sportsmen's Monthly 2014 | Page 5

CRITICAL Federal Hunting and Fishing Bill PASSES U.S. House of Representatives T he U.S. House of Representatives voted in early February to pass H.R. 3590, a bi-partisan package of pro-sportsmen legislation. The measure, which passed by a vote of 268-154, includes vital language ensuring over 700 million acres of federal public lands remain open to fishing and hunting. H.R. 3590, sponsored by Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH), addresses the top concerns of American hunters, anglers and recreational shooters. Known as the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2013, it includes many important provisions for the future of hunting. “This legislation is extremely important for the sportsmen’s community and the future of access to public lands,” said Nick Pinizzotto, USSA president and CEO. “We’re only half way home, however. Sportsmen must urge their Senators to take up these important bills today.” A key feature of H.R. 3590 is the USSA supported “Open Until Closed” language, which spells out that hunting, fishing and recreational shooting are legitimate and important activities on the more than 700 million acres of federal land managed by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. The language will help stop frivolous lawsuits brought by animal rights and anti-hunting organizations when federal agencies move to open land to sportsmen. The bill is similar to the 1997 Refuge Improvement Act championed by USSA to make hunting and fishing “priority public uses” on National Wildlife Refuge lands. In addition to “Open Until Closed,” the bill includes language to: • prohibit the U.S. EPA from regulating lead ammunition and fishing tackle; • allow for the importation of 41 legally harvested trophies taken before Polar Bears were listed as an endangered species in 2008; • promote the construction of shooting ranges on public lands; and • permanently authorize the online sale of duck stamps. Sportsmen’s Monthly February/March 5