Zinke Order to Advance Hunters' Priorities As Sportsmen's Bill Advances

Secretarial rule forthcoming; SHARE Act moves through House committee

Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017

By Mark Carter

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation Wednesday that he would issue a secretarial order advancing sportsmen's priorities as a bill with similar objectives advanced to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Zinke addressed the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation annual banquet in Washington, D.C., as its keynote speaker, and promised an order that would address priorities for hunters and sportsmen, though details were not released.

SEE ALSO: Idaho Mapping Project Delivers Most Valued Hunting Destinations

"Hunting and fishing is a cornerstone of the American tradition, and hunters and fishers of America are the backbone of land and wildlife conservation," he told the banquet as reported in The Outdoor Wire. "The more people we can get outdoors, the better things will be for our public lands. As someone who grew up hunting and fishing on our public lands, packing bologna sandwiches and heading out at 4 a.m. with my dad, I know how important it is to expand access to public lands for future generations. Some of my best memories are hunting elk or reeling in rainbow trout back home in Montana, and I think every American should be able to have that experience."

Prior to the banquet, the Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (HR 3668, known as the SHARE Act) advanced out of the House Natural Resources Committee and onto the House floor, where it will await a full House vote.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), co-chair of the influential Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, and co-sponsored by CSC Co-Chair Rep. Gene Green (R-Texas), CSC Vice-Chair Austin Scott (R-Ga.) and CSC member Rob Wittman (R-Va.).

CSF President Jeff Crane (left), Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (center) and Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt at the CSF banquet. (CSF)

CSF President Jeff Crane provided written testimony in support the bill, and 25 other leading wildlife conservation groups signed on in support as well.

Those organizations include the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the National Rifle Association, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Quality Deer Management Association, Ducks Unlimited, Safari Club International and the Sportsmen's Alliance.

A companion bill in the Senate, S. 733 from CSC member Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), is awaiting a full vote on the Senate floor.

MORE: 

In his written testimony, Crane noted the significance of conservation for every American and stressed that it's "critically important" for hunters and others who use the outdoors.

"The term ‘conservation’ as understood by the sportsmen’s community, can be traced back to Gifford Pinchot, first chief of the U.S. Forest Service," he wrote. "Pinchot defined conservation as the 'wise use of the Earth and its resources for the lasting good of man.' The idea of 'the lasting good' is that with the use of a resource comes the responsibility of careful resource management. America’s sportsmen and women are the original conservationists, who exemplify the laudable definition of conservation advanced by Pinchot, and remain dedicated to the stewardship of our natural resources."

While the SHARE Act is supported across the spectrum of hunting and outdoors groups, public-lands advocates and others in the hunting community are wary of Trump administration plans based on Zinke recommendations to shrink the size of three national monuments including Bears Ears in Utah. Details remain forthcoming.