Sportsmen around the state woke at the crack of dawn on October 13th to welcome deer hunting season. For many Central Washingtonians, hunting is an annual tradition that brings different generations of families and friends together to fill their freezers and enjoy the outdoors. Many hunters would not be able to enjoy this tradition if they did not have access to federal lands to pursue that perfect buck.
As Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, which oversees our nation's public lands policies, I am committed to a multiple use approach to land management that allows for economic, recreational and environmental benefits. After all, American taxpayers own this land, and they and their families should be able to use it in a responsible way.
This includes maintaining access to these lands for hunting and fishing. On April 17th, I supported the Sportsmen's Heritage Act, which passed the House with wide bipartisan support. This important bill protects the rights of millions of hunters and anglers to continue to hunt and fish on the federal lands currently open to them. It also reaffirms existing law barring the Environmental Protection Agency from banning traditional ammunition and fishing tackle.
Hunting is not only important to those who engage in this activity -- it is also an important economic driver in rural communities with limited tax bases due to federal land ownership. Sportsmen and women in Washington state spend approximately $3 billion annually and support more than 34,000 jobs. This bill will protect the jobs in these communities that rely on the hunters that frequent their stores, restaurants, and hotels every Fall.
Maintaining this access also provides an important environmental benefit. Hunters, fishermen, and associated industries have generated billions of dollars for fish and wildlife conservation through the local process of reasonable permits and licensing. Without the benefits of these funds, our public lands would lose out on essential financial resources for preservation and wildlife management.
By supporting outdoor recreation on our public lands, we will continue to foster economic growth in rural communities and provide much needed support to maintain these important resources. I will continue working to expand and protect our outdoor heritage for all Americans so that future generations can continue to hunt, fish, and enjoy these natural treasures.