Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said yesterday that the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525), which he sponsored, is "on life support" in the Senate because it may be impossible to find time for a final vote before the end of the year.
The bill is strongly supported by The Nature Conservancy and at least 55 other conservation, wildlife, hunting and fishing organizations, since it will conserve fish and wildlife and habitat as well as ensure access to public lands for fishing, hunting and other wildlife-related recreation.
“The Senate’s failure to move forward on the Sportsmen’s Act is deeply disappointing,” said Bob Bendick, Director of U.S. Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy. “The problem is not the merits of the bill—it has tremendous benefits and overwhelming support. The problem is simply running out of time for a final floor vote before the Senate adjourns. To allow that small bit of time to stand between Americans and the benefits they’d see in recreational access and conservation of our nation’s lands and waters is disheartening, to say the least.”
The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 combines 20 bipartisan bills important to the conservation and sportsmen’s communities to support conservation of habitat and fish and wildlife species and to provide enhanced access for hunting, fishing and other forms of recreation. In two recent Senate procedural votes on the bill, it received 84 and 92 votes of support out of 100.
“In addition to increasing opportunities for hunting, fishing and other recreational activities, the bill also represents a bipartisan, broad-based and balanced approach to conservation. It will enable cooperation among federal and state agencies, private landowners and sportsmen and women to achieve lasting protection and sustainable use of the nation’s land, water and wildlife,” continued Bendick. “We thank Senator Tester for recognizing the importance of investing in America’s natural systems for their many benefits to the American people, and for the leadership he and Senator Majority Leader Reid have shown by bringing this significant bill so far. We remain hopeful that the benefits and wisdom of passing this critical package will still somehow carry the day, and the Senate will find a way forward.”
Highlights of the package include reauthorization of several popular conservation programs including the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, the Multinational Species Conservation Fund and the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (a “land-for-land” exchange program).
Additional provisions include the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act, legislation that establishes a national, voluntary program to protect and improve fish habitat and fish populations by encouraging locally-driven efforts for fish habitat restoration and conservation; the Migratory Bird and Conservation Stamp Act and Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act, which direct additional funding toward migratory bird conservation and recreational access projects; Joint Ventures legislation authorizing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work with states, conservation organizations and businesses to support regional migratory bird conservation partnerships nationwide; and a 1.5 percent set-aside in the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Program for recreational access projects.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
The Nature Conservancy