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Recreational fishing gets boost from Senate energy bill

The Senate approved an amendment offered by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

A set of legislative provisions that fishing advocates say would benefit recreational fishing and hunting and have a positive impact on natural resource conservation passed the U.S. Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 85-12 as part of the comprehensive Energy Policy Modernization Act (S. 2012).

The Senate approved an amendment offered by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) that consisted of several provisions found in the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015.

Included in the final bill were:

• Authorizing the National Fish Habitat Partnership program;

Ÿ• Requiring certain public lands to be open for recreational fishing and hunting unless specifically closed through an open and public process;

•Ÿ Requiring that a portion of Land and Water Conservation Funds be made available for the improvement of recreational access to federal lands;

Ÿ• Reauthorizing the Federal Land Transfer Facilitation Act;

Ÿ• Reauthorizing the North American Wetland Conservation Act.

“We are very pleased with the Senate’s action and thank Sens. Murkowski and Cantwell for their leadership in seeing this through,”  American Sportfishing Association vice president of government affairs Scott Gudes said in a statement.

“This marks a major step forward in our multi-year-long effort to pass legislation to enhance recreational fishing and hunting opportunities. While what passed was not the complete Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015, it is significant progress and gets us very close to enactment of these key provisions.”

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