U.S. Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC), Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, today introduced the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014, the first bipartisan, comprehensive Senate sportsmen's bill. The legislation, which was introduced with ten bipartisan cosponsors, includes policies to enhance opportunities for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation; reauthorizes key conservation programs; and helps boost North Carolina's outdoor recreation economy.
"I am proud to have partnered with Senator Murkowski to develop the first bipartisan Senate sportsman's package," said Hagan. "In North Carolina, hunting, fishing and shooting are a way of life. Many of these traditions have been handed down through my own family, and I'm proud that our bill protects these activities for future generations while ensuring that outdoor recreation can continue to support jobs and local economies across our state. At a time when Washington is stuck in political gridlock, our bill demonstrates that Democrats and Republicans can work together to find common ground, and I look forward to working with Senator Murkowski to advance this package through the Senate and into law."
"Senator Hagan and I have been able to combine the best of the bills from our individual packages to support outdoor recreation and created a truly bipartisan package that will improve access to public lands for anglers, hunters, and recreational shooters across the nation, " said Murkowski. "I'm hopeful that the Senate can follow suit and work together to pass a sportsmen's package this Congress, because these are some of the last remaining "easy' issues that enjoy widespread support here on Capitol Hill.
The Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act combines provisions from bills that Hagan and Murkowski introduced separately last year. The legislation recognizes that the needs of sportsmen and women in North Carolina are different from those in Alaska or other states, and includes policies that address the unique needs of hunters and anglers in different parts of the country, resulting in bipartisan support from Senators across the country.
The bill introduced by Hagan and Murkowski today already has ten cosponsors: Senators Mark Begich (AK), John Boozman (AR), Dean Heller (NV), John Hoeven (ND), Mary Landrieu (LA), Joe Manchin (WV), Rob Portman (OH), Mark Pryor (AR), Jon Tester (MT) and David Vitter (LA).
A full list of provisions included in the bill is available HERE.
In North Carolina, access to lands and waters for hunting and fishing is one of the most pressing issues facing sportsmen. According to the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, lack of access is the primary reason hunters leave the sport. Hagan and Murkowski's bill includes theMaking Public Lands Public Act, which requires 1.5% of funding from the Land and Water Conservation fund to be dedicated to improving access to public lands for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. In North Carolina, lack of access is a particular problem on National Forest lands, including Nantahala, Pisgah, Uwharrie and Croatan.
The bill also includes the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, which is critical to North Carolina's efforts to build new public shooting ranges where hunters and sportsmen can responsibly practice their sport and promote firearm safety. This bill would allow the state to allocate a greater proportion of federal funding to build and maintain ranges. A map of existing and projected shooting ranges in North Carolina is available here.
Outdoor recreation is an important economic driver in North Carolina, supporting 192,000 jobs and contributing more than $19 billion annually to the state's economy.