03.03.15

Daines, Tester cast support for increasing public land access for Montana sportsmen

(U.S. SENATE) - Montana’s hunters and anglers today hailed Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines’ support for the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act, a bill that increases access for hunting and fishing.

Montana’s Senators, joined by over one-dozen colleagues, are pushing legislation that increases public access for outdoorsmen and women, supports conservation, protects hunting and fishing rights, and increases Second Amendment protections on public land.

“As a lifelong sportsman, I know firsthand the importance of Montana’s outdoor heritage to our state’s economy and our way of life,” Daines stated. “It’s important that we work together to ensure this legacy is protected for our kids and grandkids. This bipartisan bill works to ensure that future generations can enjoy the same recreational opportunities and access to public lands that we have today.”

“This bill takes ideas directly from sportsmen and women, in order to strengthen our outdoor heritage and boost our local economies,” Tester said.  “While some folks in Washington and Helena think we should sell off our public lands and put up ‘No Trespassing’ signs, this bill shows Montanans are committed to increasing outdoor recreation opportunities, not restricting them.”

Montana’s sportsmen and outdoor businesses applauded the reintroduction of the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act:

“This legislation is a balanced and bipartisan solution to ensure that hunters, anglers, hikers and other recreation users will have access to our public lands and healthy populations of fish and wildlife,” said Skip Kowalski, a lifelong hunter and president of the Montana Wildlife Federation.  “We appreciate Montana’s Senators taking the lead on protecting and improving access to our forests, lakes and rivers, and we encourage all lawmakers in Washington to support this bill.”

“Montana’s businesses benefit from responsible policies to improve opportunities in and access to our public lands,” said Greg Findley, CEO of Bozeman's Detour Destinations and member of Business for Montana's Outdoors.  “This commitment to improving smart initiatives like the Land and Water Conservation Fund will go a long way in strengthening our economy and the natural resources that give our state a competitive advantage.”

“RMEF strongly supports the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act 2015. This Act is critical to the future of public access, hunting and shooting sports, and wildlife conservation in the U.S.,” said David Allen, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. “We are very thankful to Senator Tester, Senator Daines, and many other members of the U.S. Senate for reviving this critical bill. It is gratifying to see how our Congress can work in a bipartisan manner for the things that matter to the American sportsmen and women.”

“The Boone and Crockett Club appreciates Senator Jon Tester and Steve Daines’ sponsorship of the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015, which ensures our traditional hunting opportunities are preserved and promoted on public lands across the west,” said Tony Schoonen, Chief of Staff, Boone and Crockett Club.

Originally authored by Senator Tester in 2011, the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act has a long history of bringing a diverse set of individuals and groups together in support of our outdoors.  In 2012, the bill earned the support of over 50 different sportsmen and women, conservation and wildlife groups. The package of bills include multiple Tester provisions, including the Making Public Lands Public Act which would increase public access to federal lands.

In the House, Daines also served as the lead sponsor of the Making Public Lands Public Access Act and worked to increase recreational access to existing public lands through support for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Daines also helped spearhead efforts to increase transparency and provide greater public access to information regarding payments made under the Equal Access to Justice Act, similar to provisions found in the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act.

Each year, Montana’s outdoor recreation creates and sustains 64,000 jobs and contributes over $6 billion to local economies.

The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act:

  • Requires at least $10 million of annual LWCF funding be available for improving access to existing federal lands.
  • Directs land managers to identify and develop plans to provide access to high-priority lands for hunting and fishing.
  • Requires BLM and Forest Service lands to be open for hunting, fishing, and shooting.
  • Reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through 2020.
  • Increases the states authority to fund shooting ranges on public lands.

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