Committee Passes Bill To Increase Access To Public Lands

Sportsmen Bill_credit Chuck Traxler-USFWS

Last week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed S. 733, a package of sportsmen-related bills. The bill was introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico. The package includes provisions aimed at increasing access to outdoor recreation on public lands and enhancing opportunities for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting.  

Key provisions of S. 733 include:

  • Reauthorize federal land open to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting, establishing that lands managed by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are open for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting unless specified otherwise.

  • Reauthorize the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, which allows the federal government to generate revenue for acquiring high-priority in-holdings from willing sellers.

  • Exempt commercial filming permits for film crews of three or fewer or for news-gathering purposes.

  • Authorize the Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures (HUNT) Act, which directs all federal public land management agencies to identify high-priority federal lands where hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation are permitted but where access is non-existent or significantly restricted and develop plans to provide access.

  • Amend the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to allocate funds for construction and expansion of public target ranges on federal land.

  • Permanently establish the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on wildlife and habitat conservation, hunting, and recreational shooting.

  • Allow the transport of bows and crossbows across National Park Service land.

  • Allow use of qualified hunter volunteers to manage wildlife on National Park System land.
The League supports these measures, which will help recruit new hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters as well as help retain those already within the sports. Lack of access is the number one reason sportsmen cite for not hunting, fishing, or shooting, and this bill will ensure that there are always places where we can enjoy our outdoor traditions.