The Wilderness Society Supports The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012

Capitol Building

U.S. House of Representatives

This week, the Senate is poised to debate and vote on S. 3525, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012. This bill, introduced by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), contains many provisions that support wildlife conservation efforts.

The Sportsmen’s Act is supported by different stakeholders, including recreationists, hunters, anglers and conservation groups. The bill reauthorizes the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act - a vital tool for preserving public lands in the West. The bill also guarantees that a portion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund is dedicated to improving access for hunters and anglers.

Just as importantly as the good contained in the bill, is what is not in it. Earlier this year, the US House of Representatives passed H.R. 4089, the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act. This bill would allow motorized use of designated Wilderness Areas. This would greatly harm recreational opportunities in Wilderness Areas. As passed, H.R. 4089 would have been disastrous for Wilderness Areas and the people who use them responsibly. However, Senator Tester made sure that none of the reckless language in the House bill is in the Senate version.

Sen. Tester’s bill preserves the integrity of wilderness management so that backcountry hunting and fishing is protected, and it omits any effort to undercut the President’s authority to establish National Monuments under the Antiquities Act, which was added to the House bill that passed.

 S. 3525 is an important step in the direction towards conservation goals that The Wilderness Society supports, and we applaud Senator Tester and the senators who supported this important legislation.