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Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014 - Motion to Proceed - Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act, S.2363. This legislation aims to support outdoor recreation by improving access for anglers, hunters, and recreational shooters. It would also advance conservation by reauthorizing programs that protect wildlife species and habitats, wetlands, migratory birds, and waterfowl.

Hunting, angling, outdoor recreation, and conservation are important economic contributors and support jobs in communities across the country, including many across the State of Maine. The Federal Government is an important partner in preserving our natural treasures, enhancing recreation, promoting economic growth, and helping to protect the environment, which are all components in sustaining our Nation's outdoor heritage and traditions.

While I understand the concerns that have been raised about the need to strengthen the bill's conservation measures, on balance S.2363 would benefit hunting, fishing, outdoor recreation, and conservation. One provision would promote hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting on Federal public lands, preventing arbitrary closures. Another would help States construct and maintain public shooting ranges by allowing a larger proportion of Federal funding to be used for this purpose. Additionally, the bill would reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which leverage funding for critical wetlands, migratory birds, native fish and wildlife species, and habitat projects. A permanent authorization of electronic duck stamps, the proceeds of which go to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, is also included in the bill.

I am also pleased to be the sponsor of a bipartisan amendment that highlights the many important contributions of the Land and Water Conservation Fund over the last 50 years. In addition to calling for the reauthorization of this landmark conservation program, the amendment calls for full, permanent, and dedicated funding, making good on the promise that was made to the American people in 1964 to take the proceeds from natural resource development and invest a small portion in conservation and outdoor recreation. I am deeply concerned about the continued annual diversion of these funds from their original conservation intent to other purposes. We will not balance our Nation's books today by shortchanging our future.

Upholding Maine's strong tradition of outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing, and protecting access to the great outdoors for the enjoyment of all Americans continue to be priorities of mine. I also strongly support conservation programs and actions to preserve wildlife and natural habitats. The people of Maine have always been faithful stewards of our environment because we understand its tremendous value to our way of life. The Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act would have a positive impact on hunting, fishing, outdoor recreation, and conservation, and I support its passage.

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