By a vote of 97 to 0, the U.S. Senate included a package of sportsmen’s and conservation measures in a comprehensive energy bill on April 19th. The League and a diverse coalition of hunting and conservation groups, state fish and wildlife agencies, and the firearms and archery industries have been working for several years to pass these measures as part of a "sportsmen’s bill." The Senate bill includes provisions to:
- Extend funding for wetlands conservation.
- Approve a comprehensive national partnership to improve habitat for a wide range of fish species.
- Amend the Pittman-Robertson Act to provide states with more flexibility to use excise tax revenue from firearms and ammunition sales to construct and expand shooting ranges.
- Require the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to expand access to public lands for hunting, angling, and other outdoor recreation.
- Direct all federal land management agencies to identify lands to which public access is limited and recommend to Congress how access could be provided or expanded.
The unanimous vote for these provisions demonstrates the support for them in the Senate. If these provisions become law, they will improve access to federal public lands, strengthen partnerships to restore fish and wildlife, and support investment in habitat conservation and outdoor recreation. Following passage of the energy bill on April 20 by an 85 to 12 vote, the next step in the legislative process requires a joint House-Senate committee to meet to finalize that legislation. That bill must then be approved by the House and the Senate before it can be considered by the president.