BHA joins Pennsylvania Governor and Senator at Bill Signing

HARRISBURG, Pa. –In recognition of the efforts made by the Pennsylvania Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers to advance the legislation, Senator Jim Brewster invited North American Board Member Don Rank and PA Chapter Policy Advisor John Kline to the signing ceremony for SB 146 hosted by Governor Josh Shapiro April 29, 2024.

 The new law removes the fishing license requirement for participants of therapeutic fishing programs. Removing this barrier for organized groups that use fishing as a recovery therapy, such as those serving veterans, allows for expansion of access and easier planning and implementation of events.

The Pennsylvania Chapter has been working to get the bill to final passage for almost four years spanning two legislative sessions.

According to the PFBC, more than 60 service organizations conduct hundreds of unique one-day fishing events annually​​​​. These events are part of a broader effort to use fishing as a therapeutic activity for individuals dealing with a variety of physical and mental health issues, offering a way to engage with nature and promote well-being through outdoor recreation​​​​.

The BHA Armed Forces Initiative hosts hundreds of active duty and veteran service members on outdoor adjunct therapy excursions to enhance their mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being while providing them a new mission as conservationists. At events all over the United States and Canada, AFI teaches participants how to hunt, fish, camp, hike, and recreate outdoors through the lense of conservation. The events focus on conservation principles, ensuring participants not only learn how to hunt and fish but why hunting and fishing are critical components of wildlife management. 

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BHA North American Board Member and former Pennsylvania BHA Chapter Chairman Don Rank, third from right, and PA Chapter Policy Advisor John Kline, second from right, attended the recent signing of a bill to ease the process for organizations to host therapeutic fishing events in the Commonwealth. Hosting the event was Governor Josh Shapiro, center. Bill sponsor Senator Jim Brewster, fifth from left, was joined by members of his staff and representatives of the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.

About Pennsylvania BHA

The Pennsylvania Chapter of BHA represents a diverse and enthusiastic group of outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen who seek to protect and improve wild places in the Keystone State and beyond.