The sportfishing industry is thanking the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for advancing a major portion of the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 during a committee markup hearing on Thursday.
Advocates say the bill will provide increased access to public land and water and improve fish and wildlife management.
It was originally sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.; Jim Risch, R-Idaho; Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.
“For those of us in the recreational fishing community who have been increasingly worried that yet another session of Congress will pass without paying meaningful attention to addressing sportsmen’s issues, the Senate action today is a welcome sign of encouragement,” American Sportfishing Association VP of government affairs Scott Gudes said in a statement.
“We applaud the leadership of Chair Murkowski and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., for advancing the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015, which addresses many immediate and long-term needs of anglers and hunters.”
Gudes said these provisions the committee approved are of particular interest to the recreational fishing community:
• Provide a clear congressional declaration of policy for all federal agencies to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of recreational fishing, hunting and recreational shooting opportunities on federal lands in accordance with their missions
• Establish a national “open unless closed” standard for federal lands with regard to fishing and hunting access
• Require agency justifications for proposed public access closures and limit temporary closures to no more than 180 days.