Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Date: Feb. 4, 2014
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BENISHEK. I yield myself 2 minutes of the time.

Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of H.R. 3590, the Sportsmen's Heritage And Recreational Enhancement Act of 2013, or the SHARE Act.

I would like to talk a little bit about title VIII of the bill, which is the text of a bill that I introduced, the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act. Like many of my colleagues here in Congress, hunting and fishing are an important part of the lives of the constituents in my district. I grew up in north Michigan, and like many of my constituents, I spent my summers fishing, my Octobers hunting grouse in the U.P. woods.

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

Mr. Chairman, 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 a quarter of the United States land mass, or over 500 million acres, are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Forest Service. These lands are all 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 in the Wilderness Act has opened the door for numerous lawsuits over the country. Rather than embracing sportsmen and -women for the conservationists that they are, anti-hunting and environmental groups have pursued an agenda of eliminating heritage activities on Federal lands for years. These groups look for loopholes in the law to deprive our constituents the right to use their own Federal lands.

Recreational anglers, hunters, and sporting organizations, many of whom have endorsed this bill, are supporters of the conservation movement and continue to provide direct support to the wildlife managers and enforcement officers at the State, local, and Federal levels. These dedicated sportsmen and -women from the shorelines of Lake Superior to the beaches of the Pacific Ocean deserve to know that the lands that they cherish will not be closed off to future generations.

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

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. BENISHEK. I yield myself an additional 15 seconds.

Mr. Chairman, I would encourage all of my colleagues to join me today in supporting this important piece of commonsense legislation.

I reserve the balance of my time.