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From the Senate Chamber, to Mark Twain National Forest


Location: Unknown

You can't find too much in the U.S. Senate chamber in Washington, D.C. that would remind you of Missouri's great outdoors. But recently, those two very different places had something in common.

Last week, I signed on to legislation that's anchored in Missouri values like hunting, fishing, and preserving our state's outdoor heritage for our kids and grandkids.

The Sportsmen's Act of 2012-legislation I'm proud to cosponsor-combines 20 different measures, all aimed at preserving hunting and fishing rights and opening up more public lands to outdoor sports and recreation.

The bill is important, because upwards of 35 million acres of existing public land cannot be accessed or have restricted access for sportsmen, and this obstacle to hunting and fishing should be addressed. To tackle that challenge, our bill opens up access to more federal lands.

The bill also includes two specific measures I've strongly supported in the past, one to permanently prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating hunting ammo and fishing tackle, and another to aid the development of new shooting ranges on public land.

Put simply, the Sportsmen's Act shouldn't be controversial. It includes commonsense ideas from both sides of the aisle. It doesn't add to the national deficit. It's been endorsed by stakeholders that rum the gamut, from land and water conservation groups and outdoor enthusiasts, to hunters and anglers. More than 50 groups have signed on, including the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

These are folks who don't always see eye-to-eye on policy, but they agree on this commonsense measure. Members of Congress should follow their lead, and see this as a prime opportunity for bipartisan compromise.

More importantly, this bill takes big steps to preserve our rural values and traditions for future generations of Missourians. Our kids and grandkids should have the same opportunities we did to hunt in the Mark Twain National Forest, and fish in the Big Piney River.

The Sportsmen's Act will be the first order of business when the Senate comes back into session this fall. And in the coming weeks, I'll be working as hard as I know how, with Republican and Democratic colleagues, to advance the legislation. As always, I plan to bring the voices of Missouri's hunters and anglers, small businesses, and families to the debate over how best to preserve the outdoor opportunities we enjoy so much.

Because those are the values I'm fighting for every day in the Senate.

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