WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal bill aiming to provide more opportunities for recreational fishing and other outdoor activities was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 26. The Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act proposes to expand public access to federal lands for anglers in an effort to promote conservation of natural resources and habitats.
Representative supported the SHARE Act (H.R. 2406) by a 242-161 vote. The bill is now in front of the U.S. Senate and was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on March 1.
H.R. 2406, if ultimately signed into law, would prevent federal bans of lead-based fishing gear if its use is compliant with individual state laws, require anglers, hunters and recreational shooters have access to Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands, and ensure a state or territorial fish and wildlife agency (such as California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife) is not prohibited from making management decisions about access to its marine waters.
Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Virginia), who co-chairs the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, introduced the bipartisan legislation in 2015; Reps. Tim Walz (D-Minnesota), Jeff Duncan (R-South Carolina) and Gene Green (D-Texas) co-sponsored the bill.
The SHARE Act heads to the Senate for a vote.
Wittman said the SHARE Act provides opportunities for anglers while also protecting Second Amendment rights by expanding access to federal lands for hunters and recreational fishers.
“The SHARE Act recognizes how critical sportsmen-led conservation is to preserving our sporting heritage and removes roadblocks that would prevent access to federal lands for hunters and anglers.” Wittman said in a statement. “This bipartisan package contains provisions that help to preserve our wildlife and natural resources and promote the long-held values and traditions that are dear to sportsmen and -women. Hunters and anglers were among the first to recognize how central conservation is to preserving our federal lands in public trust.”
Several legislative actions are included within the SHARE Act, such as the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage Opportunities Act, Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Shooting Protection Act, and Preserving Public Access to Public Water Act. Wittman’s office stated at least 50 conservation groups have expressed support of the SHARE Act, including the American Sportfishing Association.
There were nearly 1,000 amendments to the House-approved bill, many of them administrative.