AFI Policy Updates for Q:1 2024

AFI Policy Updates Q:1 2024

Hyde Act

(New Hampshire)

In 2019 Senator Hyde-Smith of Mississippi championed federal regulation changes to the waterfowl hunting season.  As part of the effort, two additional days were allowed to be allocated by each state specifically for military and veterans to hunt waterfowl. This legislation was passed to show appreciation and gratitude to service members past and present and recognizing that they often miss hunting opportunities due to deployments, weekend drills or other duties.  To date, 30 states have instituted these authorizations across the United States, and more are poised to do so for the 2024-2025 season, including New Hampshire. 

During the 2023-2024 state waterfowl public hearing in March of 2023, BHA AFI representatives from the New England chapter presented a recommendation to add the state of New Hampshire to the list of states that have enacted the authorizations within the Hyde Act.  Supported by the New England BHA chapter and members of the waterfowl community present and with no scientific or management concerns from the State wildlife biologist and Fish and Game Commissioners present, the proposal moved forward to the 2024-2025 regulation incorporation.

The proposal has been drafted and prepared for implementation into the regulations for the 2024-2025 season, which will open two additional days per waterfowl zone in the state for an estimated 100,000 veterans and current service members that call New Hampshire home.  This effort brought together elements within BHA from the AFI program and BHA State chapter level along with NH Fish and Game commission scientists and a Fish and Game Commissioner, highlighting where local level policy can be affected in line with the North American Model of wildlife conservation and based on the supporting scientific research.  The impact of the Hyde Act across the U.S. in giving veterans and military service members improved hunting opportunities is an important effort that will positively impact the military community. BHA AFI looks forward to continuing to campion its implementation in the remaining states that have yet to adopt it and its efforts to continue to bring the military community voice to conservation; the core of its mission.         


On January 5th Senator Danielle Conrad of Lincoln introduced LB 1001 which will establish a Veteran and Active-Duty Service Member Waterfowl hunt in Nebraska.  This bill mirrors the federal regulation allowing veterans a two-day waterfowl season outside the season dates established in the state.  Senator Conrad has been a huge supporter of veterans and came to the Nebraska AFI Waterfowl hunt in December to talk about the upcoming bill and her desire to get it passed.  The bill is currently with the Natural Resources committee of the Nebraska Legislature and is awaiting its hearing to be scheduled.  Additionally, Nebraska Game and Parks is actively working to establish the season on their own and they currently have a draft bill with the Secretary of State adding the veteran season verbiage.  The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will meet on March 8th in Hastings, NE to promulgate the rules and season dates for the Waterfowl Season in 2024 which would formally establish the season. 


Feb 2024 Armed Forces Initiative volunteers submitted a citizen resolution to the Wisconsin Conservation congress that reads:

Resolution Title

Wisconsin Veterans / Military Waterfowl Season Bill

In 2019 Senator Hyde-smith of Mississippi championed federal regulation changes to the waterfowl hunting season. As part of the effort, two days were allowed to be allocated by each state specifically for military and veterans to hunt waterfowl. This legislation was passed to show appreciation and gratitude to service members past and present and recognize that they often miss hunting opportunities due to deployments, weekend drills, or other duties. To date, numerous states have instituted these authorizations across the United States; however, Wisconsin has not.

The new law listed in S47 Subtitle E- Migratory Bird Framework and Hunting Opportunities for Veterans authorizes states to set aside a two-day special hunt period for youths, and a separate two-day hunt open to veterans and active-duty military. These special hunts may occur up to 14 days before or after the regular season framework. They would also be treated as separate from and in addition to the annual federal framework hunting season lengths.

Eligible participants are per section 101 of title 38, United 11 States Code and members of the Armed Forces on active duty, including members of the National Guard and Reserves on active duty (other than for training)

As of 29 March 2023, 29 States Currently have approved military and veteran waterfowl seasons since the passing of S47 with more considering it this year (per state wildlife agency regulations search).

Proposed resolution

Would you support:

  1. That the Wisconsin DNR approves the addition of the two additional dates for servicemembers and veterans in the 2024-2025 regulations and following years indefinitely.
  2. That the implementation of the two additional days allowed for waterfowl hunting for servicemembers and veterans be separate and distinct from the already approved youth hunt days.
  3. That the dates selected be in line with different waterfowl hunting zone season dates within Wisconsin and per wildlife biologist and scientific recommendations and in congruence with the North American Model of wildlife management.

Supporting Data:

Federal Waterfowl Regulations

This proposal is set for committee Review March 18th 2024



Compact Act

Volunteers and Staff for the BHA Armed Forces Initiative have been working in support of implementing the Compact act since its inception in late 2020.

BHA Blog post here:


AVROA will establish a task force to ensure public lands and waters can be a therapeutic treatment for military veterans returning to civilian life

WASHINGTON – The Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act, legislation that will identify and recommend policies that promote public lands and waters as health and wellness care for military veterans, was signed by the president on Saturday.

The Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act, or AVROA, directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish an interagency task force dedicated to utilizing U.S. public lands and waters as a health and wellness treatment for veterans. Championed by Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Adam Smith (D-WA), AVROA was signed by President Trump as part of the Veterans COMPACT Act (H.R. 8247). 


(2024 Update)

AVROA created an interagency task force to identify areas for the military community to engage in Adjunct Outdoor Therapy and more importantly, identify obstacles to public access for the military community. Volunteers and Staff from the Armed Forces Initiative have been meeting with lawmakers, policy advocates, phycology experts, public lands management agencies, and the Department of Veterans Affairs for three years as part of the task force's mission of increasing the use of federal public lands toward veterans adjunct outdoor therapy. 

November 2024 will see the culmination of the task forces efforts and the implementation of their findings.

AFI leadership is anxiously awaiting the results of three years of work.



Explore Act

The Explore Act was introduced to Congress in November 2023 by Arizona representative Bruce Westerman. as a whole the bill serves to improve recreation opportunities on, and facilitate greater access to, Federal public land, and for other purposes.

Why does AFI get involved?


Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this title, the Secretary concerned, in coordination with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Defense, shall develop educational and public awareness materials to disseminate to members of the Armed Forces and veterans, including through preparation counseling of the Transition Assistance Program under chapter 1142 of title 10, United States Code, on—


2024 update: This bill has been pushed through to the subcommittee on forestry.  Volunteers and Staff of the Armed Forces Initiative are working with the Congressman from Arizona Staff to provide critical data and historical knowledge on the benefits of federal Public land for the military community. We will continue to watch this bills development and make our membership aware fo updates and opportunities to get involved. 


Hire Veterans Act

Senator Mike Braun of Indiana introduced this bill Q:1 2024. The Hire Veterans Act would create a five-year pilot program to strengthen the pipeline for veterans seeking skilled labor opportunities within federal land management agencies. Over the course of the past decade, federal agencies have routinely suffered from staffing shortages.


2024 Update:

Volunteers and Staff of the Armed Forces Initiative are excited to see this bill come about and had this to say:

“Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has always recognized the inherent value of including the military community in the management of our public lands and water. These men and women possess evident personal values and a strength of character that led them to place the needs of their country higher than their instinct for self-preservation. Not only will this pilot program find acceptable candidates across the military community for these roles but it will identify multiple exceptional candidates who will lead the conservation conversation on public lands for decades to come. Thank you, Senators Braun, and Sinema, for putting pen to paper in support of this legislation that will help recognize the tremendous asset our military community members can be to our public lands and waters.” – Trevor Hubbs, Armed Forces Initiative Coordinator, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

Bill Endorsements: Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.  



For more on the Armed Forces Initiative or to get involved in helping us give the military community a new mission in conservation please contact [email protected] we are introducing 2800 members of the military community to conservation in 2024 and we would love you to be a part of our mission.

About Trevor Hubbs

I grew up running hounds on coyotes and raccoons, spent a fair amount of time public land waterfowl hunting, and have hunted upland birds behind my setters across the midwest.

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