H.R. 1825, The Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act

Posted on June 26, 2013

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OBJECTIVES

  • Recognizes the rightful place of recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting on Federal lands managed by the US Forest Service (193 million acres) and the Bureau of Land Management (245 million acres).
  • Directs the US Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to facilitate the use of and access to the lands they manage for recreational hunting, fishing and shooting.
  • Ensures sound scientific management of wildlife and their habitat.


PROVISIONS:

  • Establishes an “open unless closed” policy which mandates that these Federal lands are open to recreational hunting, fishing and shooting unless specific steps are taken to close those lands for necessary and demonstrable reasons.
  • Directs the USFS and BLM to facilitate the use of and access to these Federal public lands with certain exceptions such as for national security, public safety, resource conservation, or within the limitations of other Federal statutes.
  • Retains the discretion of Federal land management agencies to establish closures or restrictions, pursuant to all existing legal authorities, where and when the agencies determine that such closures or restrictions are appropriate or necessary, provided that the decisions made are necessary and reasonable, supported by the best scientific evidence, and conducted through a transparent public process.
  • Requires the USFS and BLM to evaluate the effects of management plans on opportunities to recreationally hunt, fish and shoot in order to protect public access and to encourage proactive management of these activities.
  • Prevents the sudden closure of lands to recreational hunting, fishing and shooting without public knowledge or input or when lacking sound scientific support.
  • Requires that written notice be given to the authorizing Congressional committees and the public and that coordination with state fish and wildlife agencies occurs before a Federal land management action closes or restricts 1,280 or more contiguous acres (or the aggregate of small closures) to recreational hunting or fishing or both. 
  • Establishes that BLM and USFS are not obligated to consider the status of fishing, hunting or shooting on adjacent or nearby non-Federal lands when making decisions regarding fishing, hunting and shooting on Federal public lands.
  • Ensures that lands designated as wilderness, wilderness eligible or suitable, and primitive or semi-primitive areas are considered open to all legal forms of recreational hunting, fishing and shooting, including the training of hunting dogs as well as field trials, unless there are legitimate reasons to close such areas.
  • Affirms an original purpose of the 1964 Wilderness Act that the Act’s purposes are “supplemental” to the primary purpose(s) for which a Federal land unit was established.  For example, Congressional purposes of wildlife conservation for a wildlife refuge would be primary and subsequent Wilderness Act purposes would be supplemental as specified in the 1964 Act.
  • Does not open the Wilderness Act to any prohibited activities such as commodity development, use of motorized or mechanized equipment or vehicles, or permanent road construction or maintenance.
  • Restores Congressional intent regarding the National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act of 1997 that directs the US Fish and Wildlife Service to make hunting and fishing decisions on the basis of individual Refuge plans and EIS’s. Anti-hunting plaintiffs got a D.C. court to force FWS to conduct additional duplicative and costly environmental analyses, beyond individual unit plans, before opening a refuge to hunting or expanding an existing hunt program.
  • Allows Federal agencies to lease or permit its lands for the construction of shooting ranges and to designate specific lands for recreational shooting.
  • Ensures that a greater liability is not imposed upon the Federal Government for designating areas for safe shooting than is imposed for designating trails, campgrounds, boat launches and other recreational sites.
  • Confirms the primary authority of state fish and wildlife agencies to manage resident wildlife on Federal lands.
  • Does not include any land or water held in trust for the benefit of Indians or other Native Americans.

 

Prepared by:

Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation

National Rifle Association

Safari Club International

U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance

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