Sportsmen's Heritage Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Ben Lujan, Jr.
Date: April 17, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. LUJÁN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Heinrich amendment. I want to thank my friend from New Mexico for offering this amendment to ensure protection of our wilderness areas.

Mr. Chairman, I'm from the western United States. I'm a supporter of the Second Amendment. I'm a hunter and a fisherman. My family raised sheep and cattle on allotments in the area where I was raised. Like many other States in the West, we New Mexicans value our access to public lands for hunting, fishing, shooting, and recreational enjoyment.

I want to make sure that everyone understands that I'm not opposed to everything in this bill, but I do have specific concerns with language that would create a loophole in the Wilderness Act. This loophole would undermine one of the defining laws that protects public lands and enables us to have pristine areas to hunt and fish--critical areas that should be preserved for future generations to enjoy. But this bill, as written, walks a dangerous line.

I had concerns in the committee markup of this bill, and today I reiterate these concerns--specifically, language in section 104(e), which opens up for interpretation to allow motorized vehicles in sensitive areas, completely undermining the effort to protect these lands. Although the majority has indicated that they have clarified this problem in the manager's amendment, a CRS memorandum issued on April 13, 2012, on section 104(e) of H.R. 4089 has confirmed my concern that section 104(e) ``could lead to motorized use and inappropriate commercial activities in congressionally designated wilderness areas.''

If the majority states through the manager's amendment that their intention is not to open up these areas for motorized vehicles, then let's make absolutely sure that this won't happen. I'm glad to see that they see that there's a problem as well, which they've attempted to address. But sadly, the loosely worded amendment won't accomplish that.

Let's work together to support the Heinrich amendment and make sure that we don't combine motorized vehicles with Second Amendment issues in our backyards. I think we can work together, Mr. Chairman.

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