Providing for Consideration of H.R. Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2015

Floor Speech

Date: Feb. 25, 2016
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BENISHEK. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 2406, the Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2015, or the SHARE Act.

The SHARE Act has 13 important provisions that will work to expand opportunities for sportsmen and -women to enjoy their favorite outdoor activities around the country.

Title II of this bill, which I authored, is the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act. I grew up in northern Michigan and, like many of my constituents, spent my summers fishing and the fall hunting grouse in the UP woods.

These traditions--spending quality time outdoors with our kids and grandkids--are the kinds of things we must make sure are preserved for generations to come.

This portion of the SHARE Act seeks to create an open until closed policy for sportsmen's use of Federal lands.

As you know, nearly one-quarter of the United States landmass, or over 500 million acres, are Federal lands that are owned by all Americans. It is important that the right to fully utilize these lands is ensured for future generations.

Over the years, legislative ambiguity has allowed antihunting groups to pursue an antihunting agenda that has eliminated opportunities for many of these activities on our Federal lands. Groups like these are taking advantage of loopholes in the law to deprive our constituents of the right to fully use Federal lands.

Recreational anglers, hunters, and sporting organizations, many of whom have endorsed this bill, are passionate supporters of the conservation movement. These dedicated sportsmen and -women deserve to know that the land they cherish will not be closed off to hunting, fishing, and shooting for future generations.

This is a bipartisan issue. Both Presidents Clinton and Bush issued executive orders recognizing the value of these heritage activities. It is time we finally close the loopholes, firm up the language, and make sure that future generations will always be able to enjoy the outdoors, hunting, fishing, shooting, or just taking a walk in the woods.

I encourage all my colleagues today to join me in supporting this piece of commonsense legislation.