New version of Sportsmen’s Package Introduced by Raúl Grijalva

Family Pheasant Hunting

And It Can’t be Good for Sportsmen When Grijalva is Involved

Grijalva, Raul used $48,000 of public money to silence a staffer
Raul Grijalva used $48,000 of public money to silence a staffer

A new sportsmen’s package has been introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives that aims to steer clear of contentious provisions that led similarly branded packages to be postponed, but its lack of Republican support puts its future into question.

The “ACCESS Act” (H.R. 4489), short for Authorizing Critical Conservation and Enabling Sportsmen and Sportswomen, was introduced to the chamber by former Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Chairman Mike Thompson (D-California) and House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona).

This legislation adopts some of the land access and conservation language included in other sportsmen’s packages this year, particularly the SHARE Act (H.R. 3668). Both pieces of legislation include provisions such as the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, which would amend the Pittman-Robertson Act to allow states to utilize up to 10 percent of wildlife conservation dollars received from the Act to facilitate the construction and expansion of public target ranges. Both ACCESS and SHARE bills also include re-authorizations of popular bipartisan programs such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, which allowed the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service to use proceeds from the sale of Bureau of Land Management lands to acquire lands of higher conservation value.

The ACCESS Act also includes several additional authorizations relevant to federal and state wildlife conservation, including:

•    Re-authorization of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which provides grants to a variety of wildlife and environmental conservation projects.
•    Re-authorization of the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, which provides grants to migratory bird conservation projects throughout the Americas.
•    Permanent re-authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses revenues from offshore oil and gas royalties to support acquisition of federal inholdings of conservation significance and provides state and local governments with funds for outdoor recreation projects.
•    Creation of a Theodore Roosevelt Genius Prize program for various efforts relating to conservation and management.
•    Codification of the missions and tasks assigned to the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, which advises the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture on hunting, recreation, and conservation issues pertinent to federal wildlife and lands management.
•    Re-authorization of Multinational Species Conservation Funds, including the African Elephant Conservation Act, the Asian Elephant Conservation Act, the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act, the Great Ape Conservation Act, and the Marine Turtle Conservation Act.

Leaning how to shootThe ACCESS Act avoids firearm-specific provisions and other often partisan elements that resulted in the SHARE Act stalling in the aftermath of the October shooting in Las Vegas. These include the “Title XVI – Lawful Purpose and Self-Defense” and “Title XV – Hearing Protection” portions of the bill. These titles of the SHARE Act involve provisions that if passed would ease restrictions on transporting firearms between states, ease restrictions on the sale of armor-piercing bullets, and make the process for obtaining firearm silencers comparable to that of a background check for gun purchases.

The ACCESS Act and SHARE Act both face uncertain futures in the House. While the SHARE Act has passed out of committee, current events leave the chances of any vote taking place on the House floor in the near future unlikely. The ACCESS Act’s Democratic-only support and tailored casting as a rebuke to the SHARE Act also leaves the chances of this legislation getting a hearing in a Republican majority Congress quite low.

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Don McDowell, Arizona native, is an avid outdoorsman and has been an active bass pro fisherman for over 16 years and in the past 15 years has developed his own radio show promoting bass fishing and conservation efforts for bass fishing that escalated to nominations with several bass groups and organizations. In the past 12 years, Don has pursued his conservation agenda through AZBFN-TBF as Conservation Director and with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in the spring of 2014 redesigned his website to include those efforts highlighted below and has increased the AZGFD exposure, public education of the AZGFD and Commission issues on his radio show and website soliciting local and national support for Arizona. 2014 has seen the founding of SRT Outdoors, Inc., 501 C3 organization, “Not for Profit, for Conservation” which is concentrating on grants for mitigating the effects of Gizzard Shad on Roosevelt lake thorough habitat enhancement, Florida Strain Bass stocking, lakes bottom mapping, etc. and feral hog research.

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