Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly announced his support for bipartisan legislation that would expand access to land for recreational fishing and hunting, while also advancing land and water conservation efforts. The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015, S.405, would reauthorize several habitat conservation programs; boost opportunities for fishing, hunting, and outdoor recreation; and help strengthen Indiana’s economy. Donnelly was a co-sponsor of similar legislation last year.
“For many Hoosiers, fishing, hunting, and outdoor recreation are more than a pastime – they are a way of life,” said Donnelly. “The outdoors is vital to Indiana’s economy in supporting Hoosier jobs, providing recreation, and ensuring our communities are strong. That is why I am joining Republicans and Democrats in support of this bill to expand access to federal lands for hunting and fishing, while preserving our environment. I am hopeful that we can work together in a bipartisan manner to pass this important legislation.”
The legislation, recently introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R–AK), includes reforms and habitat conservation provisions that would:
- Expand access to federal land for recreational activities like fishing and hunting, by requiring certain lands to be open to recreational activities without a specific reason for closure and by directing a portion of the annual Land and Water Conservation Fund activities to be spent on securing public access to federal lands that are currently difficult to access for recreational purposes;
- Allow states to use a greater proportion of federal funding to create and maintain public shooting ranges;
- Ensure the continued use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle; and
- Reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, providing matching grants for the acquisition, restoration and enhancement of wetlands critical to migratory birds.
According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation supports 106,000 Hoosier jobs and contributes more than $9 billion to Indiana’s economy annually.