Legislation, which was passed by a 92-8 vote, would improve conservation efforts of public lands and waters.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Partisan divide might be a popular narrative for media outlets and political handlers to push on to the curious public, but there are plenty of proposals where bipartisan support is the norm. Senate Bill 47 (S. 47) – more commonly known as the Natural Resources Management Act – was approved by a 92-8 vote on Feb. 12. The bill proposes to help preserve and promote outdoor recreational activities nationwide.
The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), in a Feb. 4 letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, stated the Natural Resources Management Act is necessary in order to restore public lands harmed by the recent federal government shutdown.
“The House and Senate have the opportunity to … [pass] a momentous piece of legislation that would take great strides in protecting our public lands and waterways, which tremendously suffered during the recent shutdown, and deliver needed reforms to enhance the outdoor recreation experience,” ORR’s Feb. 4 letter, which was signed off by groups such as the American Sportfishing Association, Association of Marina Industries, BoatUS and National Marine Manufacturers Association, stated.
Legislation such as the Natural Resources Management Act would go a long way in helping the national outdoor recreational economy grow, the ORR letter continued.
“The outdoor recreation economy accounts for 2.2 percent of the U.S. GDP, producing a combined $734 billion output for the U.S. economy and supports 4.5 million direct jobs. Despite these impressive numbers, the outdoor economy still has considerable room to grow. Smart investments and public lands management policies are needed – and time is of the essence,” the ORR Feb. 4 letter stated.
“Outdated policies and the lack of investment in recreation infrastructure is unsustainable and jeopardizes the growth of our sector, which is why we are asking Congress to immediately put forth and pass a robust public lands package,” the letter continued.
- 47 features a section dedicated to a national policy on sportfishing access. The bill specifically proposes to “facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting, fishing and recreational shooting opportunities on federal land.”
The bill also proposes to “conserve and enhance aquatic systems and management of game species and the habitat of those species on federal land.”
Expansion of such fishing opportunities would involve consultation with the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council, language of S. 47 stated.
Also included in the Natural Resources Management Act is a section on wildlife habitat and protection, which covers management of invasive species.
The Natural Resources Management Act was forwarded to the House of Representatives on Feb. 13, where it will be deliberated. Both houses of Congress must approve the bill before it heads to the White House for approval or veto.