BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce the bipartisan Recreational Fishing and Hunting Opportunities Act.
My bill is cosponsored by my friend from West Virginia, Senator MANCHIN, and is a commonsense, bipartisan piece of legislation. It enjoys support from over 39 separate organizations from the hunting, shooting, recreational fishing and wildlife conservation community. In addition, my staff has worked diligently with environmental and conservation organizations such as the Wilderness Society and the National Parks Conservation Association to alleviate their concerns with previous versions of the bill by removing references to the Wilderness Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Furthermore, this legislation specifically exempts National Park Units, National Wildlife Refuges and land held in trust for the benefit of Native Americans.
Our bill would acknowledge the importance of hunting and fishing on our BLM lands and in our National Forests by requiring hunting and fishing to be recognized activities on those lands. We are talking about traditional American activities, and they are activities that deserve the same consideration as other traditional uses of our public lands. Our legislation would establish an ``open unless closed'' policy for recreational hunting, fishing and shooting on BLM and Forest Service land. It is important to note, though, that this would not give these activities special priority, but merely level the current playing field between these traditional activities and other uses of our public lands.
I would like to thank Senator MANCHIN, an original cosponsor of this bill, for his and his staff's hard work in moving this bill forward. It is our hope that this bill will receive quick but careful consideration as many sportsmen across this country have been eagerly awaiting passage of this measure for quite a long time.