Kristina Alexander, Coordinator Legislative Attorney
M. Lynne Corn Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
Kelsi Bracmort Specialist in Agricultural Conservation and Natural Resources Policy
Eugene H. Buck Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 (H.R. 4089) is intended to create an “open
until closed” management policy for federal lands, according to the House
committee report. It describes the criteria for federal land management
agencies to consider in order to close federal lands to fishing, hunting,
or recreational shooting, and directs that management is subject to existing
law. However, some ambiguities may lead to different, perhaps unintended
results. H.R. 4089 passed the House on April 17, 2012.
Hunting and fishing are already allowed on the majority of federal lands.
Because H.R. 4089 would change land management practices and would require
additional or different analyses, reports, and notices, the bill would
alter federal land management by adding or changing steps in the planning
process. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that Title II of H.R. 4089,
for example, would cost $12 million over the first four years.
Title I establishes the processes for federal land management agencies to close
federal lands to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting, and is
almost identical to Senate bill S. 2066. Title II addresses recreational
shooting in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) national monuments. While the
associated House committee report refers to H.R. 4089 affecting lands managed
by BLM and the Forest Service almost exclusively, the bills’ broad
definition of federal public lands could lead to portions of H.R. 4089/S.
2066 extending to all agencies that own land.
Wilderness areas may be most altered by the bills. While the Wilderness Act
already allows hunting and fishing, H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would appear to
allow any activity related to those activities, as well as to recreational
shooting. This may mean that structures could be built in wilderness areas
or mechanized transport could be allowed, which are activities that are banned under
current law; however, this is not clear since another provision appears to
continue to ban motorized access.
Titles III through VI address issues related to hunting, fishing, or federal
lands. Title III would reverse the administrative rule in place since May
15, 2008, which banned the import of sporthunted polar bears from Canada.
It would allow the import of polar bear trophies by applicants who sought
an import permit prior to that date, when the polar bear was listed as
threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Senate bills S. 2066
and S. 1066 would also direct issuance of those permits. However, in 2011,
a federal court rejected a suit to allow such imports.
Title IV of H.R. 4089 would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
from regulating lead shot and lead sinkers, as would S. 838. EPA, however,
denies it has the authority to take such action, while state laws could
still restrict the use of lead shot and sinkers. Reversing a 2012 Forest
Service decision, Title V would allow deer hunters in the Kisatchie National
Forest in Louisiana to use hunting dogs without restriction. Title VI
would limit the President’s ability to establish national monuments under
the Antiquities Act of 1906 by requiring both the governor and legislature
of the affected state to approve designations.
Date of Report: June 19, 2012
Number of Pages: 39 Order Number: R42569 Price: $29.95
Document available via
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