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Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Chairman, let me thank the ranking member of the committee, the gentleman from Oregon, for allowing me to speak in support of this legislation even though he has reserved time in opposition.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of H.R. 3590, the Sportsmen's Heritage And Recreational Enhancement Act of 2013. Today's bill is the product of the work of members of the bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, which I serve as cochair. The Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus is the largest caucus in Congress, boasting nearly 300 members. The caucus seeks to advance hunting, angling, shooting, and trapping legislative priorities. Today's bill is comprised of eight individual bills that seek to promote these interests.
Mr. Chairman, not only is hunting and fishing a great passion for millions of individuals like myself, it is also a major contributor to the U.S. economy. Mississippi, home to some of the world's finest duck, whitetail, and sport fishing, contributed $2.2 billion to the economy in 2011 alone.
My congressional district receives scores of visitors each year, including some Members of this body, who come to enjoy the vast natural resources that the Mississippi Delta has to offer. When these individuals visit Mississippi, they hire local outfitters, stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants, pay State hunting fees, and purchase hunting gear like Primos brand hunting calls, which are produced in my district in Flora, Mississippi. In fact, it has been estimated that hunting and fishing supports 33,000 jobs in Mississippi.
Mr. Chairman, the bill before us today makes improvements to a wide range of issues, including the ability to purchase duck stamps online; statutorily establish the Wildlife Hunting and Heritage Conservation Council, which was administratively formed by Secretaries Salazar and Vilsack in 2012. It also reduces a financial burden on States and local governments for target range construction and maintenance. It also excludes commercial ammo and fishing tackle from being classified as toxic substances, which the EPA has agreed. It also directs the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to issue a permit and assess an annual fee for commercial filming crews of five people or fewer for activities on Federal lands and waterways administered by the Secretary. It also allows law-abiding citizens to transport firearms across Army Corps of Engineers projects like the hundreds of miles of levee that I have in my district. And it also opens up more Federal land to hunting and fishing.
Mr. Chairman, while this bill makes tremendous strides to meet the needs of sportsmen, there are several other provisions that were not included in this bill that we must continue to push for, including an overhaul of the Red Snapper Management in the Gulf of Mexico, the ability to convert decommissioned oil rigs to fish habitat, and the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. I look forward to working with my colleagues to address these issues.
Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting H.R. 3590.
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