Open Unless Closed' Pivotal Piece of New Hunting Heritage Act

Realtree Outdoor News

Open Unless Closed' Pivotal Piece of New Hunting Heritage Act

Posted 2013-05-09T08:15:00Z  by  Barbara Baird

Open Unless Closed' Pivotal Piece of New Hunting Heritage Act

Remember the Sportsmen's Act fiasco last year? You know, when sportsmen and conservation groups from across the land united to approve significant changes to managing our habitat, including raising the duck stamp from $10 to $25?

And remember how deflated we felt when the bill flopped in the Senate- because of a regulation regarding no new taxes? In fact, Realtree's duck blogger Joe Balog explained why it failed.

Earlier this month Congressman Dan Benishek (MI) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) introduced the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act (H.R. 1825 and S. 170), which requires the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management BLM) to manage our lands for hunting, angling, and target-shooting based recreation.

According to the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, the lobbying arm of the NRA, this bill does the following: recognizes the rightful place of recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting on Federal lands; supports Executive Order 13443 that directs Federal land management agencies to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting on Federal lands; and ensures sound scientific management of wildlife and their habitat.

Open, unless closed policy

Perhaps one of the most important provisions in the bill is that it sets a clear open unless closed policy for hunting, angling and shooting on public lands managed by the USFS or BLM. Of course, federal land managers may close the land when deemed appropriate - but the public must be informed. After all, it is our land.

Another important feature of the bill is the significance it attaches to public access. In fact, the NRA-ILA states, H.R.1825 prevents the sudden closure of lands to recreational hunting, fishing and shooting without public knowledge or input or when lacking sound scientific support. H.R.1825 requires that written notice be given to the authorizing Congressional committees and the public and that coordination with state fish and wildlife agencies occurs before a Federal land management action closes or restricts 1,280 or more contiguous acres (or the aggregate of small closures) to recreational hunting or fishing or both.

There are many more important parts to the legislation that if passed, will benefit hunters.

  • Lands listed as wilderness or wilderness eligible, along with primitive or semi-primitive lands will be open to all legal recreational hunting
  • The training of dogs will be allowed on those lands
  • The law reverses a court ruling that does not allow the USFS to open wild refuges for hunting
  • It reverses a recent court ruling that interferes with the authority of the US Fish and Wildlife Service to open wildlife refuges to hunting
  • The law affords the use of skilled volunteers to assist Federal land managers in controlling over populations of wildlife where hunting is not allowed
  • The bill will recognize the authority of state fish and wildlife agencies to manage resident wildlife on these lands

Read the entire bill.