The NEW Sportsmen’s Act of 2013

The Sportsmen’s Act has been watched very closely and written about before on, and until it is passed we promise to keep you updated about this historic bill. Just last month Sportsmen’s Act S. 1335 was introduced to the Senate. This bill is not the same bill (S. 3525) that was narrowly defeated last year and then shelved earlier this year due to a budgetary issue regarding waterfowl stamps.

S.1335, the current version of the Sportsmen’s Act contains many of the same bills that the original Sportsmen’s Act did. However, there are some changes that should be noted. Hopefully these changes will help it finally pass through the Senate and be enacted. This biggest change to this version is the void of both S. 51 and HR. 1300.

S. 51 is also known as the National Fish and Wildlife Reauthorization Act of 2013. The NFWRA would have required the Secretary of the Interior to appoint an additional five directors to increase the total to twenty-eight directors and their terms would all be six years long. It would also remove certain limitations of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and require the Executive Director of the Foundation to be appointed by and to serve the Board as the chief executive officer. Further, the bill would have authorized the Foundation to assess and collect fees from federal agencies and to use the funds for matching contributions from the private sector, state and local agencies.

HR. 1300 would have amended the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 to extend through fiscal year 2017 and would have reauthorized the volunteer programs and community partnerships for National Wildlife Refuges. Both of these bills would have helped preserve our nation’s waters and the wildlife found within and around them. While not having these bills within the Sportsmen’s Act may help it pass, they hopefully will be brought up again on their own in the near future.

The new Sportsmen’s Act includes the reauthorization of the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (S. 368) and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (S. 741).

S.368, the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, would essentially amend the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA) and reauthorize it until July 25, 2021.

S.741 would amend the current Federal Duck Stamp Act and would allow the Pitman-Robertson funds collected through sales in your stores, be used to create and maintain shooting ranges. Neither of these acts, other than the promotion of more wetlands, should impact fishing tackle retailers much. Section 101 and Section 401 of bill S.741 though will have an impact on anglers and retailers.

Section 101 would seek to increase the recreational fishing and hunting accessibility to BLM land and Forest Service lands, establishing an open until closed policy on all lands and waters as well. This is very similar to HR. 1825, “The Recreation Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act” that the House introduced earlier this year as a stand-alone bill. HR.1825 has yet to leave the House and appears unlikely to move on though. Having the same bill in the Sportsmen’s Act may be the only way this idea gets through both the House and the Senate.

As a retailer, you may not be concerned with all of the bills that together make up the Sportsmen’s Act of 2013, but you and your customers would enjoy the passing of this bill as it stands today. Section 401 of S.741 will take the EPA out of the equation of deciding where and when lead can be used for fishing. This is something many retailers and anglers are hoping for, as the cost of lead alternatives is not palatable to either group. Many outdoor groups are supporting this bill because of this section alone; many anti-groups are against this bill for this as well. Only time will tell which side gets what they want.

If this bill passes, will another group other than the EPA step up to contest lead usage on our waters? More than likely, yes. There will always be someone trying to infringe on anglers’ rights, but with the passage of this bill it will be more difficult for anyone to overthrow the usage of lead in fishing tackle.

The Sportsmen’s Act of 2013 may not pass this year and may become the Act of 2014. No one is able to able to tell what the Senate will do when it comes up for a vote again. The only thing that is known for now is that S.1335 still has strong bi-partisan support, something few bills seem to have lately.

The Sportsmen’s Act is a ray of hope for anglers and fishing tackle retailers. It is encouraging to see that there are so many elected officials who are fighting to open more waters and protect our rights. What are your thoughts on the newest version of the Sportsmen’s Act? Do you think the Senate will pass this version or will there need to be more revisions to it? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page or in our LinkedIn group.