September 8, 2017 – Protecting America’s Sportsmen
What Does This Regulation Do?
During the Obama Administration, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) closed thousands of acres of federal lands for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting purposes. These federal agencies have repeatedly restricted public access to our federal lands under the guise of safety, resulting in the loss of our sportsmen’s recreational activities.
Why Is This A Problem?
In 2013, the BLM banned recreational shooting in the Ironwood Forest National Monument in the name of environmental protection and safety concerns. Local stakeholders submitted comments opposing this closure, but were ultimately overruled. Also in 2013, the USFS closed down a perfectly safe outdoor shooting range managed by the Tucson Rod and Gun Club in the Coronado National Forest. USFS originally claimed the closure was “to enable contractors and Forest personnel to conduct a risk assessment of the area and remove shooting debris.” 4 years later, the closure is still in effect with no indication of when that supposed assessment will take place. Such restrictions have negative effects on our economy, and our constituents’ rights to hunt, fish, and shoot on federal lands, and are having an adverse impact on Arizona.
What I am Doing About It
Earlier this year, I led a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which is responsible for drafting the bill to provide funding to BLM and USFS, asking for inclusion of a provision to reverse implementation of these rules. I am pleased that the Subcommittee honored my request and included the provision I proposed in Section 436 of the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bill. Enacting this provision will be a good step towards protecting long-standing American traditions. As the bill makes its way through the appropriations process, I will be watching closely to ensure it remains included.
What Are They Saying?
“Removing barriers to hunting opportunities is a key priority for ensuring sportsmen and women are able to fully enjoy their traditions. Access to public lands continues to be among concerns for growing the next generation of outdoorsmen and women. Tax dollars generated by hunters through the support of firearms and ammunition manufacturers has funded more than $12 billion in Pittman-Robertson excise taxes to preserve and perpetuate land access and conservation programs for future generations of hunters. Sportsmen and women deserve a lasting legislative solution that will ensure they aren’t denied access to public lands.”- Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation
"The NRA thanks Rep. Biggs for highlighting this important issue. America’s sportsmen deserve greater opportunities to pursue our nation's rich outdoor heritage. We will continue to work with Rep. Biggs, Secretary Zinke, and the Trump Administration to expand our right to hunt and shoot recreationally on Federal lands." - National Rifle Association
“Hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting are some of America’s oldest pastimes. Many of our members are sportsmen who must have access to our public lands to fully participate in outdoor recreational activities. Congressman Biggs’ efforts support the two major pillars of our organization: ‘Essential Tools – Essential Rights.’” - Doug Ritter, Chairman and Executive Director, Knife Rights, Inc., Gilbert, Arizona