Will there be room on the agenda to pass the Sportsmen’s Act?

posted at 9:21 pm on March 23, 2015 by Jazz Shaw

Given how many fires there are to be put out in Washington these days I’m not sure how much hope I’m holding out for this, but there is a bit of business which Congress could accomplish without much trouble which would actually help people. I’m speaking of the third attempt to pass what’s come to be known as the Sportsmen’s Bill. Sponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the bill seeks to arrange for access for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreational activity to millions of acres of public land which is currently locked off because they are surrounded by privately owned land.

Heinrich is one of the lead sponsors of a bill designed to improve access to federal land for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Similar packages failed in the last two sessions of Congress. Despite the partisan gridlock in Washington, Heinrich is optimistic about the legislation’s prospects this time. His co-sponsor, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and plans to use her significant influence to get the bill drafted and voted on early so it does not get mired in election-year politics like the last one did.

“I’m optimistic that the third time is going to be the charm,” Murkowski said during a Senate hearing on the bill Thursday.

“I am very, very serious that … we are going to deliver on this sportsmen’s bill. It is an issue we’ve been working on for far too long.”

You can download an overview of the bill here. There are fourteen sections to it, but a few of the highlights seem like they should be able to draw enough support to get through without too much pain and angst. It will require BLM and Forest Service lands to be open for hunting, fishing and shooting sports while leaving national parks exempt from the requirement. Under another provision, small film crews of up to five people will be more easily able to obtain permits to film on public lands. But perhaps most importantly, it will authorize the use of existing Land and Water Conservation funds for the purchase and development of access lanes through lands which are currently held privately so outdoor sportsmen can access federal lands which can not be legally reached today. Current estimates show that roughly four million acres are now locked off in that fashion.

There are a few more provisions which are going to draw attacks – mostly from the Left – and they may need to be modified in the amendment process or trimmed out to get the main part of the bill through. One would provide a permanent exemption for lead shot from current laws restricting the use of lead. Another would provide funding to help state and local authorities establish and maintain public shooting ranges on federal lands. Both environmental advocates and anti-gun nuts are going to oppose those, I’m sure, though both are worth doing. But even if we can’t get them through, it really shouldn’t stop the rest of the bill.

This isn’t one of those sexy, high profile bills which the media enjoys going nuts over, so I don’t know how much priority it will receive. But it deserves a fair debate and – hopefully – a vote to get this done.


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Comments

. . . . . the bill seeks to arrange for access for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreational activity to millions of acres of public land which is currently locked off because they are surrounded by privately owned land.

Jazz Shaw on March 23, 2015 at 9:21 PM

.
The government (on the State level) doesn’t seem to have a problem taking private land for public road use.

What’s the difference, here?

listens2glenn on March 23, 2015 at 9:44 PM

3 comments or bust …

ShainS on March 23, 2015 at 9:56 PM

I don’t want hunting and fishing on federal government land.

I don’t want there to be federal government land, unless it’s military bases or D.C. no good reason to hunt on either.

But they’ll make you comfortable with a bad premise if they appear to give you access to land that I contend is usurped.

Buddahpundit on March 23, 2015 at 9:56 PM

Add a Hearing Protection amendment. Take suppressors off the NFA list. Or at least drop the $200 tax stamp.

skoot65 on March 23, 2015 at 10:01 PM

I don’t want hunting and fishing on federal government land.

Buddahpundit on March 23, 2015 at 9:56 PM

.
?
.

I don’t want there to be federal government land, unless it’s military bases or D.C. no good reason to hunt on either.

But they’ll make you comfortable with a bad premise if they appear to give you access to land that I contend is usurped.

Buddahpundit on March 23, 2015 at 9:56 PM

.
On these two points, I agree mostly.
.
There is military depot/airport across and down the river from Harrisburg,PA where deer have become an issue. I’m not sure why the military doesn’t take care of that themselves, but it seems apparent they must not be.

But in the Gettysburg and Valley Forge National Parks, the deer have seriously taken over. I’d be all for the State (PA) taking over those parks, but I’m sure the Feds wouldn’t give it up without a major fight.

listens2glenn on March 23, 2015 at 10:23 PM

Buddahpundit on March 23, 2015 at 9:56 PM

Buddahpundit, who will be the “owner” of these lands if not the federal government?

I don’t like the feds locking up large tracts of land, such as what 0bama has done the past few years, and then blocking access by the public. if the gubbmint owns the land, we should be able to access it. Somebody must hold title to it!

Iamaluckyone on March 23, 2015 at 10:23 PM

Luckyone, that’s just the kind of thing that plays right into their hands. We need to be ridding the feds of their land ownership rather than trying to make their ownership palatable.

Buddahpundit on March 24, 2015 at 12:38 AM

There is military depot/airport across and down the river from Harrisburg,PA where deer have become an issue. I’m not sure why the military doesn’t take care of that themselves, but it seems apparent they must not be.

listens2glenn on March 23, 2015 at 10:23 PM

I don’t know the specifics for that location, but in general the military prefers to let hunters (usually but not always base personnel) take care of wildlife problems on their bases, so long as it’s not in a restricted area.

James on March 24, 2015 at 1:58 AM

I think I would rather that they sell off some of the ridiculously excessive federal holdings of wildernesses.

Count to 10 on March 24, 2015 at 8:35 AM

Not so sure I’m willing to get behind a federal move to build roads on privately held land, just so people can get through it to hunt.

It’s one thing if the owners want to sell a strip, or lease usage out. But if I’m understanding this correctly (and I don’t have time to read it this morning to make sure) we’re looking at employing the force of law to coerce landowners to let people through their property?

PXCharon on March 24, 2015 at 8:35 AM

Funny, a bill stating what we can do on public land.

They keep using that word. I don’t think it means what they think it means.

LoganSix on March 24, 2015 at 9:00 AM

If it ever gets sold, it will be to the highest bidder. That isn’t you and I.

aceinstall on March 24, 2015 at 10:03 AM

Unless I’m off my nut hunting is allowed on most BLM and National Forest
land. Not so National Parks.

Otherwise millions of hunters have been hunting and fishing illegally for decades on
Federal land.

The other point about access. In many states if a person owns a tract of
land that is surrounded by other property the landlocked owner
has a right to access their property. The mechanics of it vary, but I don’t
see why this would be any different.

Of course that twenty foot right of way would probably end up being littered
with beer cans and dip cans and Slim Jim wrappers. Who cleans that up?

I know from experience that 1% of people cause 90% of the problems,
and the same is true for litter.

That’s the sad part. Give them access, and some will crap in their own
messkit.

Tenwheeler on March 24, 2015 at 11:10 AM

The US Constitution only authorizes Federal land for…

Article I Section 8 Clause 7: “To establish Post Offices and Post Roads

Article I Section 8 Clause 17: “To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings

I don’t see why hunters would want to hunt on post offices/roads, forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, administrative buildings, or in DC… unless its time exercise our rights under the Declaration of Independence. It’s not like the Federal government has taken over lands it isn’t authorized to possess, is it? /sarc

dominigan on March 24, 2015 at 11:25 AM

4 million acres of land no one can get to? Seems like a waste to me. All that land should revert back to who owned it before the government took it over, or their heirs. If no title was held before the federal government then it should either go back to the states or, heck, let’s have another homestead act on it. Prove up a claim and earn it in 5 years.

cptacek on March 24, 2015 at 12:18 PM