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Senate to consider bill to expand hunting, fishing and shooting

Major sportsmen's legislation took one more step toward possible passage. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) made a motion on the Senate floor on Monday, June 2, 2014 to proceed to consideration of the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014 (S. 2363). The bill contains a multitude of provisions designed to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting.

Before the Memorial Day recess, the bill has been placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar as Calender No. 384. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) introduced the bill, which has picked up 38 cosponsors. Previous versions failed to clear the last Congress. No vote or time for debate or possible amendments have yet been set, though. No companion bill is pending in the House.

Included amongst the bill's provisions are a provision that would allow any state to apply to issue electronic Duck Stamps. The Department of the Interior could limit the number of new states in any given year, though.

The bill also includes a provision amending the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to allow states to build, renovate or expand recreational shooting and archery ranges on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service property with only a 10 percent non-federal match. Current law requires a 25 percent match. The provision is designed to make it easier to build such ranges.

And the bill contains a provision that would require operators of federal lands, including national parks and national forests, to consider recreational hunting, shooting and fishing in their management plans. The bill would not allow these activities anywhere they are otherwise proscribed by state or federal law. Otherwise, managers would have to consider them and go through a public process if they want to restrict or prohibit them for reasons of public safety, protection of species or the environment, interference with other recreational users, etc.

The bill would also earmark $10 million or 1.5 percent, whichever is greater, of the Land & Water Conservation Fund per year for projects to increase public access to federal recreational land. And it would reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act at $50 million a year through 2019. It would also reorganize the National Fish &Wildlife Foundation.

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