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Senate to consider major sportsmen's legislation again

Major sportsmen's legislation has been readied for Senate consideration. The latest version of comprehensive legislation to enhance recreational hunting, fishing and shooting has been placed on the Senate legislative calendar for debate and a vote after the Memorial Day recess. The Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014 (S. 2363) became available on the congressional website on Friday, May 23.

Sen Kay Hagan (D-NC) introduced the bill and picked up 36 cosponsors. Previous efforts over the last few years to pass similar measures have failed. But a motion to proceed has been made on the Senate floor. The bill contains a variety of measures.

For one, it would allow all states to issue electronic duck stamps with the approval of the Department of the Interior. For two, it would increase to 90 percent the allowed share of federal money used to build or expand firearms or bow and arrow target practice ranges under the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act. And it would require U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) operators to consider fishing, hunting and recreational shooting in their plans. But all such plans would have to conform to other state and federal laws. The bill would not require these activities where they are otherwise not allowed. And managers could restrict or ban them for other reasons, such as ecological or public safety ones.

The bill would also fund the North American Wetlands Conservation Act at $50 million a year between fiscal years 14 and 19. And it would earmark 1.5 percent or $10 million, whichever is more, of the Land & Water Conservation Fund for public access projects. USFS and BLM would come up with a list of lands that are hard to get to and acquire paths to them from willing sellers that would make it easier for the public to reach the lands for recreational purposes.

The bill would also establish a National Fish & Wildlife Foundation. A 28-member board would govern the foundation. It would get $25 million a year for five years for conservation projects.

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