Sportsmen’s Bill Moves on After Markup

By Caroline E. Murphy

Hunting and mentoring. Image Credit: USFWSmidwest, licensed by cc 2.0

The House Natural Resources Committee held a heated day of public land bill markups on October 8. The most notable of these markups occurred for the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (H.R. 2406), also known as the SHARE Act.

The SHARE Act, a bill that has been largely supported by sportsmen’s and other conservation groups as a way to increase access to public lands and support recreation, passed committee yesterday with established provisions remaining intact. It also left markup with a few more hunting and angling provisions added, such as the expansion of hunting access on national forests in four states, a requirement for the National Park Service (NPS) to allow public participation in Grand Canyon buffalo culls, and the ability for states and territories to override the federal government on coastal water fishing restrictions.

The SHARE Act has been part of a Congressional push this year to pass public lands bills that will satisfy sportsmen’s, conservation, and environmental interests. Some provisions of the SHARE Act have been particularly controversial, such as the exclusion of lead ammunition and fishing tackle from chemical substance regulations as well as language that would roll back the Administration’s recently announced restrictions on the domestic ivory trade. The Senate’s Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act (S. 556), a complement bill to the SHARE Act, attempts to focus on less controversial provisions to expand hunting and land access on federal lands.

Another complement bill, the Sportsmen’s Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Enhancement Act (H.R. 3173), or the SCORE Act, has been seen as a way to fill in the land and wildlife conservation gaps that remain in the SHARE Act.

The SCORE Act, whose provisions committee members failed to add to the SHARE Act during markup, provides reauthorization for many land conservation programs that aim to conserve fish and wildlife habitats while expanding public land access. This includes reauthorization of the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, both of which provide grants to protect migratory species habitats. The SCORE Act also includes a provision to require 1.5% of Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) money to be set aside to expand recreational access on public lands, though LWCF’s funding expired on September 30.

As no land conservation provisions were added to the SHARE Act during markup, it is unclear if provisions existing in legislation such as the SCORE Act will have a path forward during this Congress.

The SHARE Act now awaits consideration by the full House.

Additional Sources: E&E News PM (October 8, 2015)

Caroline Murphy is the Government Relations Program Coordinator at The Wildlife Society.

Read more of Caroline's articles.