H.R. 4089: Sportsmen''s Heritage Act of 2012

H.R. 4089

Sportsmen''s Heritage Act of 2012

Date
April 17, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, April 17, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 4089 under a rule. H.R. 4089 was introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) on February 27, 2012, and was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources, which reported the bill as amended by a vote of 27-16 on February 29, 2012.

Bill Summary

 

TITLE I—RECREATIONAL FISHING AND HUNTING HERITAGE AND OPPORTUNITIES

 

H.R. 4089 would require federal public land management officials to use their authority to facilitate access to federal lands and waters for fishing, sport hunting, and recreational shooting. The requirement to provide access to federal land could be limited for reasons of national security, public safety, or resource conservation. In addition, access could be limited because of any federal statutes that specifically preclude these uses on federal land or by any discretionary limitations on recreational fishing, hunting, and shooting determined to be “necessary and reasonable.”

 

The bill would also require that the head of each federal land management agency exercise its land management discretion in a manner that supports and facilitates recreational fishing, hunting, and shooting opportunities, in accordance with applicable federal law.

 

The bill would provide that any federal public land planning documents (including land management plans and resource management plans) include a specific evaluation of the effects that such plans would have on opportunities to engage in recreational fishing, hunting, or shooting.  Under the bill, the fact that recreational fishing, hunting, or shooting occurs on adjacent or nearby public or private lands would not be considered in determining which federal public lands would be open for these activities or for setting levels of use for these activities.

 

Under the legislation, federal lands could be closed to hunting and fishing for numerous reasons including resource conservation, public safety, energy or mineral production, energy generation or transmission infrastructure, water supply facilities and national security. Proposals to close lands would require a scientific review and consideration through a “transparent public process.” If an agency moved to close a parcel larger than 640 acres, it would be required to publish notice of its intent to close the land to hunting activities, demonstrate coordination with relevant state entities and submit a report to Congress regarding the closure.

 

TITLE II—RECREATIONAL SHOOTING PROTECTION

 

H.R. 4089 would require the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to open national monument land under its jurisdiction for recreational shooting. The Director of BLM would be authorized to restrict recreational shooting for national security, public safety, and to comply with any current federal or state statutes. According to CBO, this provision would require BLM to allow recreational shooting on lands included in national monuments in eight western states. The bill would require public notice of closures or restrictions to shooting on national monument land and a report to Congress detailing the location and evidence justifying the closure or restriction before any such restriction or closure occurs.

 

TITLE III—POLAR BEAR CONSERVATION AND FAIRNESS

 

H.R. 4089 would require the Secretary of the Interior to issue a permit to allow the importation of any polar bear trophies (other than an internal organ) from a polar bear legally taken in a sport hunt in Canada prior to the polar bear being listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Only hunters who submitted applications for permits to import such remains prior to May 15, 2008, the date the polar bear was listed under ESA, would be eligible to receive a permit under the bill. Based on information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, CBO estimates that processing and issuing the roughly 40 permits that would be affected by the legislation would have a negligible impact on the federal budget.

 

TITLE IV—HUNTING, FISHING, AND RECREATIONAL SHOOTING PROTECTION

 

The bill would protect the use of traditional ammunition and fishing tackle by reiterating and clarifying existing law to clearly limit EPA’s authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Specifically, the bill would amend the TSCA to allow for the sale of traditional ammunition and fishing tackle that is subject to federal excise tax.

 

Background

According to the Committee on Natural Resources, the Sportsmen's Heritage Act of 2012 clarifies federal authorities and policies for the management of hunting and fishing on public lands. It provides additional protections for continued public access to public land for the purpose of recreational fishing, hunting, and shooting sports on U.S. Forest Service (FS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands and allows the importation of certain trophies that were legally obtained. The bill also protects the use of traditional ammunition and fishing tackle from new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation. H.R. 4089 is derived from four separate bills that are among the hunting and fishing community's highest legislative priorities.

 

The provisions of Title I would require federal land managers to support and facilitate public use and access for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting, but would not give these uses priority over other multiple uses. It would require an evaluation of the impact on hunting, fishing and recreational shooting into all land and resource planning and eliminates redundancies in environmental review of hunting, fishing and recreational shooting opportunities. The bill would restate, in unambiguous language, Congress's consistent position that BLM and FS lands designated as wilderness, wilderness eligible, or suitable and primitive or semi-primitive areas, are open to all legal forms of hunting, fishing and recreational shooting unless there are good reasons to close such areas. The bill would further end opportunities for continued nuisance lawsuits by classifying hunting, fishing and recreational shooting as “necessary” to meet the minimum requirements for the administration of wilderness. Title I of the bill is derived from H.R. 2834, the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act, sponsored by Dan Benishek (R-MI).

 

Title II would set as a general policy for BLM that national monument lands are open and accessible for recreational shooting, and requires BLM to justify recreational shooting closures or restrictions on national monument lands for reasons of national security, public safety or to comply with federal and state laws or regulations. The bill would require public notice of such closures or restrictions and a report to Congress detailing the location and evidence justifying the closure or restriction before any such restriction or closure occurs. Title II is the text of H.R. 3440, the Recreational Shooting Protection Act, sponsored by Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

 

Title III of the bill consists of the text of H.R. 991, the Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act of 2011, sponsored by Don Young (R-AK). This title would allow the Secretary of the Interior to issue a permit to allow the importation of any polar bear trophies (other than an internal organ) from a polar bear legally taken in a sport hunt in Canada prior to the polar bear being listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

 

Finally, Title IV of the bill would reiterate and clarify existing law to clearly limit EPA's authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). It would amend the TSCA to allow for the sale of traditional ammunition and fishing tackle that is subject to federal excise tax. Title IV of the bill is the text of H.R. 1558, sponsored by Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL).

Cost

CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would cost $12 million over the 2013-2017 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts. Enacting H.R. 4089 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. According to CBO, Title II would require BLM to allow recreational shooting on lands included in national monuments in eight western states. Based on information provided by the agency regarding the cost of amending land use plans and environmental analyses for the affected areas, CBO estimates that implementing title II would cost $12 million over the 2013-2017 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts.