Hoeven Works to Move Sportsmen's Bill through Committee

Legislation Builds on $90 Billion Impact of Hunting and Fishing

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven this week worked to move bipartisan sportsmen’s legislation through the Senate Energy Committee, an important first step in the legislative process. At a Senate Energy Committee hearing, the senator stressed the economic benefits of the Sportsmen’s Act of 2015, which would increase access to hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation opportunities.

Hoeven is a cosponsor of the legislation which reauthorizes important conservation programs, improves access to federal lands and helps to boost the outdoor recreation economy.

“Like many North Dakotans, I enjoy spending time outdoors hunting and fishing,” said Hoeven. “The Sportsmen’s Act is not only good for our sportsmen and women, but also for our economy. This bipartisan bill will help increase access to opportunities for outdoor recreation, which is an important industry in our nation.”

Jeffrey Crane, President of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, testified that the U.S. outdoor recreation industry has a collective annual economic impact of $90 billion currently, and if this legislation passes that should increase.

Today’s Energy Committee hearing is the first hearing on the legislation this Congress. The committee considered the bill’s provisions that fall under its jurisdiction. The Environment and Public Works Committee is expected to hold a hearing soon on provisions within its jurisdiction.

Witnesses at the Energy Committee hearing included: Steve Ellis, Deputy Director of Operations at the Bureau of Land Management; Leslie Weldon, Deputy Chief of the National Forest System at the U.S. Forest Service; Jeffrey Crane, President of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation; and Whit Fosburgh, President and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. 

The Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 contains a range of provisions including:

  • The Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage Opportunities Act, which protects the public’s right to recreational hunting, fishing and shooting on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands.
  • The Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act, which exempts lead-shot ammunition and lead fishing tackle from being regulated by the Toxic Substances Control Act, leaving the existing authority to state fish and game agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Bows Transported through National Parks provision to prevent the National Park Service from restricting the lawful transport of bows and crossbows through national parks. Currently, firearms can be transported through national parks, but not bows.
  • Reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through 2019.
  • The Making Public Lands Public Act, which requires the greater of 1.5 percent or $10 million of annual Land and Water Conservation Funds for improving recreational access to existing federal lands.
  • The HUNT Act, which directs all federal public land management agencies to improve access to high priority federal lands where hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation are permitted.
  • The Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, which helps states build and maintain shooting ranges on federal and non-federal lands.

Hoeven is cosponsoring the bipartisan legislation, which was introduced by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.). The senator has been a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus since January 2011 and was a cosponsor of similar sportsmen’s legislation in the last Congress.