Legislation would open federal land to hunters, anglers

cmc

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After a quick search I didn't see this posted but apologize if it's redundant.

With the talks of a Grand Canyon Watershed Natl Monument on the line this is something Az Strip/Kaibab hunters might want to look at.

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http://tucson.com/sports/legislatio...cle_ce1d5074-368d-5a2a-8d30-679205dc1a46.html

March 12, 2015 1:33 am • By HENRY C. JACKSON
0

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Martin Heinrich was hunting for Barbary sheep across the terrain in his native New Mexico when he was stopped in his tracks.

Tracts of land around him were under the control of the federal Bureau of Land Management — and off limits. Period. Among them: areas where he recalled hiking or hunting when he was younger that are now behind a locked gate.

"You have land that taxpayers own, you know, that is my kids' birthright," said Heinrich, who used a 270 Winchester rifle for the recent sheep hunt. "You can't even get on it."

The New Mexico Democrat is working with a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues on legislation to dramatically broaden access to federal land for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation. The bill, which he is sponsoring with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, also would ease some regulations for those who hunt and fish, and strengthen land conservation.

A Senate committee scheduled its first hearing on the bill Thursday, with witnesses including federal officials and conservation experts.

In a partisan Congress, the legislation stands out for its lack of outspoken critics and its wide political range of co-sponsors. They include relatively liberal members like Heinrich and bedrock conservatives like Idaho Sen. Jim Risch and Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer. As one of its co-sponsors, North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, put it, "There's something for just about everyone."

In years past, though, that hasn't been enough.

Twice before, in 2012 and 2014, similar bills were introduced with bipartisan support but were doomed by a mix of election-year politics and procedural hurdles. Supporters think this year's version has the best chance to pass and could reach the Senate floor this spring, with House legislation introduced afterward.

Murkowksi said the bill is designed to preserve "traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation."

Some environmental groups have objected to an element of the bill involving lead ammunition and fishing tackle. A provision would make permanent an exemption that bars the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating lead shots and add lead fishing tackle to the list of exempted items. The National Resources Defense Council, among others, has said the provision would hurt the EPA's ability to protect the public. But no group has organized an effort against the bill this year.

The bill would be a boon for hunters and anglers, opening federal lands and requiring the federal government to set aside money to make land more accessible. The only exception would be national parks and wildlife refuges. Improving access would also be required, including making paths more accessible and adding signs.

Regulations on hunters and anglers would be eased. The bill would allow hunters to carry their bows and crossbows across National Park Service land, and hunters with legal firearms would be able to take them on land that's managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for water projects.

For North Dakota hunter Jason Weber, the directives about land use are the most important component of the bill.

Weber describes himself as a multi-purpose hunter — he takes his bow out many weekends, goes ice-fishing when it's cold enough and looks forward to the first day of deer season with a sense of anticipation.

"Anything we can eat and hunt, I do it, and I look forward to doing it," Weber said.

But the Fargo resident says he is often frustrated that federal lands are not more open and accessible and that they aren't widely known to outdoorsmen like himself. He said requiring federal officials to do more sends the right message.

"This is a way of life here," he said.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 

James Riley

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I look forward to hearing what the more learned members of this site have to say. I do question the hunting (or even presence) of Barbary Sheep on public lands but I think that's a side issue.
 

Ben Lamb

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It's a good bill. This will be the third time that it will be introduced. Hopefully this time it passes.
 

Ben Lamb

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Here's the factsheet on the bill:

http://www.heinrich.senate.gov/download/fact-sheet-sportsmens-act-of-2015

Committee page on the bill:
http://www.energy.senate.gov/public...ancing-the-bipartisan-sportsmen-s-act-of-2015

It's nice to see a guy like Senator Heinrich in there fighting for us. To my knowledge, he's one of the only sitting senators who hunts on public land regularly and fights to keep it public. It's also very nice to see Senate ENR Chairwoman Murkowski as a co-sponsor. Hopefully that helps gets us over the finish line this time.
 

WapitiBob

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Maybe if Heinrich spent a few minutes with the head of the NM Land Board he'd know why BLM in the state is essentially private land.
 

James Riley

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Questioning whether they are there or whether they should be? :confused:

Whether they should be. Actually, I don't question that either. I don't think they should be. I'm not a fan of any domestic or non-native flora or fauna on public lands. I guess if he's shooting them as part of an eradication program, I'm all for it (feral horses too).

Edited to add my two cents on access: I'm all for public access to public land. I just have a problem with various types of access. I never met a road or a motor on public land that I liked. Does that make me an elitist? Okay. I'll own that. The vast, overwhelming majority of land in the continental U.S. is accessible by motor. If further new road building were outlawed on the entire planet Earth, I'd be on board.
 
Last edited:

Ben Lamb

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Edited to add my two cents on access: I'm all for public access to public land. I just have a problem with various types of access. I never met a road or a motor on public land that I liked. Does that make me an elitist? Okay. I'll own that. The vast, overwhelming majority of land in the continental U.S. is accessible by motor. If further new road building were outlawed on the entire planet Earth, I'd be on board.

The Making Public Lands Public Act and HUNT Act don't bring any new roads into the mix, they simply allow for willing seller-willing buyer access easements to landlocked public land, and cause the agencies to do an inventory of inaccesible public lands.
 

James Riley

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The Making Public Lands Public Act and HUNT Act don't bring any new roads into the mix, they simply allow for willing seller-willing buyer access easements to landlocked public land, and cause the agencies to do an inventory of inaccesible public lands.

Sounds good to me! Whenever it comes to Congress we just have to be wary of unintended (or intended but sneaky/rider) consequences.
 

1_pointer

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Whether they should be. Actually, I don't question that either. I don't think they should be. I'm not a fan of any domestic or non-native flora or fauna on public lands. I guess if he's shooting them as part of an eradication program, I'm all for it (feral horses too).

Edited to add my two cents on access: I'm all for public access to public land. I just have a problem with various types of access. I never met a road or a motor on public land that I liked. Does that make me an elitist? Okay. I'll own that. The vast, overwhelming majority of land in the continental U.S. is accessible by motor. If further new road building were outlawed on the entire planet Earth, I'd be on board.
Thanks for the clarification.
 

What Map

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Ben is a great source of information about Wash DC bills. I'm on board until he says the bill has been changed too much. So far, so good.
 

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