Reps. Thompson, Grijalva Introduce Gun Violence-Free Sportsmen’s Legislation as Alternative to Failed SHARE Act
Washington, DC – Former Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Chairman Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today introduced H.R. 4489, the Authorizing Critical Conservation for Sportsmen and Sportswomen (ACCESS) Act. The bill comes on the heels of House Republicans’ failed attempts to advance the SHARE Act (H.R. 3668), a bill riddled with anti-conservation and anti-gun safety provisions.
The ACCESS Act expands access for fishing, hunting, and other recreational activities on public lands and addresses numerous priorities of the sporting and conservation communities. The bill reauthorizes and fully funds several popular conservation programs that protect wildlife and habitat through long-term conservation, land acquisition, and public-private partnerships. It also includes a permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, key programs for sportsmen’s access to public lands that have broad bipartisan backing. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) has routinely ignored any attempts to reauthorize the LWCF, including Rep. Grijalva’s bill, despite the program’s extraordinary levels of public and congressional support.
“As a lifelong hunter and sportsman, I’m proud to introduce the ACCESS Act, a true sportsmen’s bill that would make a real difference for sportsmen and women across the country,” Thompson said. “Participation in hunting and fishing has declined over the years and we should be working to get more young folks outdoors, expanding access to these recreational opportunities. The programs in this bill have bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, and I look forward to working with my colleague to move them forward.”
“We need to stop letting the gun lobby and its partners in Congress use sportsmen as a shield to advance their agenda. Instead of catering to National Rifle Association lobbyists, our bill expands access to public lands and protects America’s outdoor heritage,” Grijalva said. “Conserving wildlife and habitat while opening up new opportunities for hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts is a win for everyone. It may not be how the gun pushers in D.C prefer to do business, but it’s a welcome step forward for sportsmen tired of seeing their priorities hijacked.”
The ACCESS Act does not include provisions from the SHARE Act that weakened commonsense regulations on the sale of silencers, made it easier to import deadly weapons from foreign countries, and overrode rules banning guns at Army Corps of Engineers recreational facilities like Lake Mead. The ACCESS Act focuses on legislation with a history of strong bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.
Sporting and conservation groups including the National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited, and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers support the ACCESS Act. Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, praised the bill, saying:
“America’s sportsmen and sportswomen are among the finest wildlife conservationists in our nation. The ACCESS Act demonstrates the inextricable role that restoring wildlife habitat and expanding outdoor opportunities play in increasing wildlife populations and preserving our outdoor heritage, from protecting the coldwater streams that trout depend upon, the wetlands and grasslands that waterfowl and upland birds need, and the forests where deer, elk, and turkeys roam. At a time when America’s waterways and wildlife habitat are more at risk than ever from encroaching development, nutrient runoff, invasive species, climate impacts and other threats, this bill will put people to work in communities across the country making sure America’s great outdoors – and the women, men, and wildlife that depend on them – continue to thrive.”
Among other measures, the bill:
- Reauthorizes funding for key conservation programs: North American Wetlands Conservation Act, Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, Land and Water Conservation Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act, African Elephant Conservation Act, Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act of 1994, Asian Elephant Conservation Act of 1997, Great Ape Conservation Act of 2000, and Marine Turtle Conservation Act of 2004.
- Ensures recreational access for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting on public lands and clarifies land acquisition and conservation easements for recreational use under existing laws.
- Encourages fish habitat and aquatic ecosystem conservation by addressing invasive species and establishing partnership grants.
- Authorizes a prize competition for wildlife conservation technology aimed to prevent wildlife trafficking, promote wildlife conservation, manage invasive species, protect endangered species, and promote non-lethal management of human-wildlife conflicts.
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