The sportsmen's package punted by the Senate punted on Friday night is actually a collection of 20 different bills and was described by Sen. Tester (D-MT), chairman of the Sportsmen's Caucus, as "the biggest package of sportsmen bills in a generation."
One of the bills deals with polar bear hides, so of course that's what the mainstream media is focusing on--as though trophies are the only important aspect of hunting and angling. But there are 90-some million sportsmen in this country who don't have polar bear hides they'd like to bring home. Last year alone, hunting and fishing contributed $646 billion in direct spending to the economy. These bills cover far more ground than allowing a handful of hunters to bring home trophies.
The bills increase access for recreational hunting and fishing and they protect hunting and fishing rights while supporting land and species conservation. Access to public land is one of the cornerstones of this collection of bills, mandating, among other things, that 1.5% of the funding of the Land and Water Conservation fund set aside to improve access to 35 million acres of public land.
The package of bills would re-authorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act that provides matching grants to landowners that set aside average for migrating waterfowl. Additionally, it would authorize the Sec. of the Interior to re-evaluate the price of duck stamps and adjust for inflation, which would increase funding for conservation projects with a proven track record of success.
Other bills would allow bow hunters to cross federal land where hunting isn't allowed; encourage federal land agencies to cooperate with state and local authorities to maintain shooting ranges; and exclude ammunition and tackle from federal environmental laws that regulate lead.
Sen. Tester's address to the senate floor Friday night, in which he explains the sportsman's package, is embedded below.