The United States Senate should move forward in a bipartisan way to pass the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S.3525) before the end of the 112th Congress, The Nature Conservancy said today.
The bill will conserve fish and wildlife and habitat as well as ensure access to public lands for fishing, hunting and other wildlife-related recreation. The Nature Conservancy and at least 55 other conservation, wildlife, hunting and fishing organizations joined together to show support for this legislation, which was sponsored by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT).
Earlier this week, the Senate failed to pass a motion to proceed on the bill, leaving its fate uncertain in the few final days of this Congress.
“Senators should take advantage of this rare opportunity to act on a bill that has bipartisan and broad support. A bill that encourages conservation of our natural resources while providing recreational opportunities that help grow our economy should be an ideal measure for all Senators to support,” said Bob Bendick, Director of U.S. Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy. “We hope Congress will pass the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 swiftly in the weeks ahead. The American people would be grateful for the bipartisan action that will benefit them and their families for generations to come.”
The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 combines 17 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.
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.
These programs provide economic benefits in addition to the conservation benefits. Many are proven, effective models of fiscally sound programs. For example, NAWCA is one of the nation’s most successful conservation models, involving multiple partners from private organizations and the federal government who work together to protect and restore millions of acres of wetlands. On average, for every federal dollar invested, the program leverages three state and private dollars. Further, the Congressional Budget Office found that the bill would reduce the deficit by $5 million over the 2013-2022 time period.
A recent report from the Outdoor Industry Association, found that Americans spend $646 billion on outdoor recreation every year. This is one of the fastest growing industries in the country and supports 6.1 million American jobs.
A 2011 study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that 90.1 million people—38 percent of Americans 16 and older—participated in hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching. There has been a 10 percent increase in hunting and fishing participation since 2006, requiring more places to pursue these activities.
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