Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet applauded Senate action to advance a bill that would protect and enhance opportunities for hunting, fishing, and shooting. The procedural vote to move to the measure, which happened in the early hours this morning, means the Senate will consider the legislation for passage when it returns for a lame-duck session in November. Bennet is cosponsor of the legislation and pushed his Senate colleagues to schedule a vote on the bill in a speech on the Senate floor earlier this week.
The Sportsmen's Act of 2012 is a package of nearly twenty bills that would increase access and opportunities for sportsmen and women. The legislation includes a Bennet provision to allow bowhunters with archery equipment to cross national park lands in order to access adjacent hunting lands. Currently, bowhunters do not enjoy the same rights as those with firearms to access prime hunting lands adjacent to national parks.
The provision has the support of Colorado sportsmen and has been a Bennet priority throughout his time as senator. While visitors can legally transport firearms in national parks, the law is unclear regarding bows. This poses a practical problem for bowhunters who want to legally hunt on public or private lands adjacent to parks, but must cross National Park Service Lands to get there. Under Bennet's bill, hunting within park service boundaries remains illegal.
"Sportsmen in Colorado enjoy some of the country's best and most scenic hunting lands, but some sportsmen have been denied reasonable access to them," Bennet said. "This bipartisan bill is a commonsense solution to provide access and equity to Colorado bowhunters who want to legally hunt on lands adjacent to national parks."
"Senator Bennet is a tireless advocate for sportsmen and I appreciate his work to increase access for our nation's bowhunters," said Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus. "Sportsmen constantly tell me about the importance of improving access to public lands and this bill combines the best ideas from Republicans and Democrats in a common-sense package to move the ball forward for hunters and anglers across the nation."
"As an avid bowhunter myself, I applaud Senator Bennet's continuous efforts to provide and improve quality access and opportunities for our nation's sportsmen and women," said Gaspar Perricone, Co-Director of the Bull Moose Sportsmen's Alliance. "This effort is yet another step in ensuring that the next generation of hunter and angler will enjoy the same opportunities that were handed down to us."
"The TRCP expresses gratitude to Senator Tester, along with the other cosponsors, including Senator Bennet, for their efforts to work across the political divide and propose this sensible yet comprehensive package of bills," said Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership President and CEO Whit Fosburgh. "This legislation will directly benefit millions of American sportsmen and the nation's vibrant outdoor recreation economy."
In December, a coalition of sportsmen organizations in Colorado sent Bennet a letter of support for his bow hunting provision. Organizations signing the letter were:
Bull Moose Sportsmen's Alliance
Colorado Bowhunters Association
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Society
Colorado Wildlife Federation
Colorado Traditional Archer Association
Colorado Youth Outdoors
Bear Creek Archery, Inc.
National Wild Turkey Federation
Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers