With the strong support of the NRA, U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, has included a provision in the fiscal year 2013 Interior and Environment appropriations bill that protects hunters’ access to millions of acres of federal land. The bill was passed by the subcommittee this week and will be considered next week by the full committee.
The provision specifically restricts the use of any funds to close any federal lands to sportsmen if the land was open to hunting on Jan. 1, 2012, unless the closure was done in compliance with an established management plan that was in place as of that same date.
The provision does allow for temporary closures of up to thirty days to accommodate special events or for public safety reasons. These closures can be extended one time for an additional 90 days, for extraordinary weather conditions or for public safety.
The provision also protects the traditional authority of the states to manage fish and wildlife under state law.
Inclusion of this provision in the bill is an important step toward its inclusion in the final legislation. Chairman Simpson deserves the thanks of sportsmen and women for his leadership in protecting access to federal lands.