SHARE Act moves out of House Natural Resources Committee

By Kaitlyn Miller

©Marvin De Jong

On Sep. 13, the House Natural Resources Committee held the markup for the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, or SHARE Act (H.R. 3668). The legislative package was voted out of committee and sent to the full House of Representatives with a vote of 22 yeas and 13 nays. The stated goals of the legislation are to “to provide for the preservation of sportsmen’s heritage and enhance recreation opportunities on Federal land”. A reintroduced legislative package from last Congress, the SHARE Act contains a few additional contentious provisions related to the sale of firearm silencers and the removal of restrictions on armor-piercing ammunition.

Many of the natural resources and land access provisions within the previous iteration of this legislation have reappeared. One such holdover provision is Title I – Fishing Protection Act. This section would make lead (Pb) sport fishing and hunting equipment exempt from regulation under the Toxic Substances Control Act and prevent the Departments of Interior and Agriculture from regulating the use of ammunition or fishing tackle based on the lead content as long as the use complies with State law. Unlike the previous iteration of the SHARE Act, National Park Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service would not be exempt from this restriction. The current prohibition on using lead shot in waterfowl hunting would remain in effect.

Another noteworthy provision is Title IV – Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage Opportunities Act, which would require  Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service lands to be open to the public for hunting, fishing, and shooting unless specifically closed. This provision would also require the USFWS to consider public uses like hunting and and fishing when adding new lands to the National Wildlife Refuge System, and allow the BLM, USFS, USFWS, and NPS to use volunteer hunters to assist in culling excess animals on federal public lands.

Other holdovers from the previous legislation include: the Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act, which would allow the Secretary of the Interior to issue import permits for 41 Polar Bears legally harvested within Canada before the listing of the polar bear (Ursus arctos) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and Title XIV – Gray Wolves, which would require the final rule delisting the western Great Lakes and Wyoming populations of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) under the Endangered Species Act to be reissued and exempt from judicial review.

Provisions within this legislation that have typically enjoyed bipartisan support include reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act. During the committee markup however, more contentious amendments ands provisions were highlighted among the committee members.

Twelve amendments in total were put forward during the hearing. Five of the amendments were agreed to and seven failed. One of the amendments that passed would require NPS to publish a management plan within 180 days to reduce the number of bison in the Grand Canyon by allowing for hunter participation. Other amendments that passed included language that would make it easier to hunt in the National Forest System, and alter the permitting for guides and outfitters. Amendments that failed included a permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the removal of gray wolf Endangered Species Act language, and the authorization of a report on the effects of a border wall on hunting, fishing, and other recreation activities.

Read TWS’ position statements on Lead in Ammunition and Fishing Tackle and Wolf Restoration and Management in the Contiguous United States.

Kaitlyn Miller is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Wildlife Policy and Programs team. Read more of Kaitlyn's articles here.