Idaho GOP Sen. Jim Risch today showed why he is co-chairman of the Senate Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, speaking in favor of the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2015, of which he is an original cosponsor.
The bill was introduced earlier today by GOP Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Democratic New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich.
The bill has been introduced on some form or another over the last three Congresses and has been unable to pass due to controversial provisions on issues like importing polar bear trophies shot legally in Canada. Other sections are widely supported on wetlands protection and public access. Risch spoke out for the bill's provisions that encourage shooting range development and ability to carry guns on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoirs.
“Whether you hunt or fish to put food on the table, or for sport, or to pass down a tradition to your family, or for game management purposes, there is something in this bill for you,” said Risch. “With more than a half-of-a-million sportsmen and sports-women in the state of Idaho, this legislation will ensure they can continue to access their favorite hunting or fishing spot.”
The bill would reauthorize the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation leverages federal conservation money with non-federal sources, providing hundreds of individual grants each year to improve habitat. The Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act is a “land for land” mechanism that lets the federal Bureau of Land Management sell less-than-ideal parcels of real estate and use the proceeds to fund critical conservation on public lands, largely in the West.
The bill would also create a process for analyzing and addressing access limitations to existing parcels of federal land, and would provide funding for fishing and hunting access projects through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“Trout Unlimited is pleased by the strong leadership that Sen. Murkowski and Heinrich have demonstrated in assembling this good bill,” said Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimited vice president for government affairs. “We look forward to working with them and the other bipartisan sponsors to strengthen the bill for fish habitat conservation even more as it journeys through the legislative process.”