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Sporting Groups Urge Swift Passage of Public Lands Package

S. 47 would reauthorize the expired Land and Water Conservation Fund

Photo courtesy of National Wildlife Federation website.


Sportsmen and women are urging Congress to pass a comprehensive public lands and sportsmen's package of legislation, once and for all, after failing to do so for multiple terms in a row. Senate Bill 47 incorporates permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) along with a sportsmen's package which expands access for hunting and fishing, as well as provides protection for fish and wildlife habitat. Introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on January 9, 2019, it could finally see a vote in the Senate this week.

“This Public Lands package is an incredible victory for the sporting community,” said Aaron Kindle, senior manager of western sporting campaigns for the National Wildlife Federation. “It conserves both programs and lands we love and ensures sporting opportunities for years to come. We really need to see this package cross the finish and put a bow on many years of hard work”.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which used royalties from offshore energy development to acquire and develop outdoor recreation opportunities, expired in September, 2018.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund has provided outdoor opportunities to generations of hunters and anglers. It's time to ensure that future generations receive the same opportunities. Congress needs to pass S. 47 without delay to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.

In addition to permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, S. 47 incorporates the WILD Act's innovative responses to conservation threats, while also expanding access for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on federal public lands, recruiting and retaining more hunter-conservationists, and allowing the transport of archery equipment through national parks.

“The S. 47 package is a huge win for the sporting community, habitat and access,” said Dwayne Meadows, executive director of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation. “I know Wyoming will certainly benefit.”

The public lands package also protects 1.3 million acres of public land through wilderness designation in New Mexico and Utah, wild and scenic river designation and designation of a wild steelhead management area in Oregon, and a study of wildlife migration and habitat fragmentation in California.

“So much of our quality fishing, hunting and reliable access in Idaho relies on programs that require bipartisan support,” said Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation. “This package is no different. It is a far-ranging, unique approach that is a special acknowledgement to public lands, wildlife and our sporting heritage.”

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