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House panel approves recreational fishing access bill

The House Natural Resources Committee voted to approve the addition of the Preserving Public Access to Public Waters Act.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said the House Natural Resources Committee voted to approve the addition of the Preserving Public Access to Public Waters Act (HR 3310) to the bipartisan Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (HR 2406).

The committee also approved the amended bill and sent it to the House floor.

The Preserving Public Access to Public Waters Act was introduced by Ros-Lehtinen and fellow GOP congressmen Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart in part to address what Ros-Lehtinen said was the National Park Service’s blatant disregard for public access concerns raised in objection to a proposed no-fishing zone in Biscayne National Park.

HR 3310 is co-sponsored by 36 members of the House of Representatives, including 18 members of the Florida delegation.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association said the bill’s provisions include protecting traditional fishing equipment containing lead from unwarranted federal bans; requiring federal land managers to support and facilitate access for fishing, hunting and recreational shooting on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands; and preventing unnecessary closures to fishing and hunting on public lands by implementing an “open until closed” management policy.

“By adding the Preserving Public Access to Public Waters Act to the bipartisan SHARE Act, we’re one step closer to restoring the working trust and partnership necessary between the federal government, state wildlife agencies and the American public so that we can work together to tackle the real environmental challenges that threaten people’s way of life and the natural lands and waters on which we all depend,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement.

“The National Park Service doesn’t even need to look outside of South Florida to find an appropriate model to follow — Everglades National Park recently released a general management plan that was crafted with [Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission] input that genuinely satisfies both fishermen’s access issues and environmental groups’ habitat protection concerns.

“I will continue working with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to bring the National Park Service back to the table to build a general management plan for Biscayne National Park that incorporates fishermen as indispensable partners in the protection and restoration of Biscayne’s reefs.”

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