The following is a summary of state legislation that chapters have been working on during the current legislative session, relevant to public land habitat management, public access to wildlife and the protection of sporting traditions.
As you know, a single piece of state legislation can have a major impact (good or bad) on the state’s fish, wildlife, and sportsmen. That’s why it’s so important that members like you remain informed and engaged on relevant state legislation.
As should be evident from the examples below, BHA state chapters have had no shortage of legislation to weigh-in on. BHA continues to serve a much needed bipartisan voice of reason on the most important issues for those of us who value hunting and fishing that is wild and open to all.
Thanks to all who continue to work on these important issues – we couldn’t do it without you.
Support SB 67: OHV Enforcement by Wildlife Officers
Currently on the Governor’s desk and ready to be signed, CO BHA testified in support of reauthorization of legislation (HB08-1069) which gives state wildlife officers the authority to enforce off-highway vehicle regulations on federal lands. For more information on this legislation and BHA’s position, click here.
Support SB 175: Habitat Stamp Funding
CO BHA supports reauthorization of SB 175, which protects large tracts of undeveloped habitat and provides public access to sportsmen through a $10 fee on hunting and fishing licenses (once a year). Since its inception the Habitat Stamp Program has protected more than 170,000 acres of habitat from development and provided public access to 68,000 acres for hunting and 26 miles of streams for fishing. For CO BHA’s position on this legislation, click here.
Oppose SB 188: Expanding the Landowner Voucher Program
CO BHA strongly opposes legislation which would expand the Landowner Voucher Program, by dedicating an additional 5-10% of tags to large landowners and wealthy individuals that can afford landowners tags, which are sold on the open market. This program threatens the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, public access to wildlife and fair distribution of game. Click here to read CO BHA’s testimony on this legislation.
Oppose House Joint Resolution 1: Declare Frank Church Wilderness a “natural disaster area
Idaho BHA opposes House Joint Resolution 1, declaring the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area a “natural resource disaster area.” Idaho BHA recognizes the desire of many to see a higher priority placed on trail maintenance by the USFS. However, the current legislature’s willingness to declare the crown jewel of America’s wilderness system a disaster area highlights the challenges we face as sportsmen concerned with wildland conservation in Idaho. Specifics on HJR 1 can be found by clicking here.
Oppose House Joint Resolution 22: Transfer of Federal Lands
Idaho BHA continues to oppose House Concurrent Resolution 22, demanding that the federal government imminently transfer title to all of the public lands within Idaho’s borders directly to the State of Idaho. Current language in the resolution removes wilderness areas, parks, and military reservations from the State’s list of demands, however, Idaho BHA maintains that such a transfer would be devastating for Idaho’s wild places- and the vast majority of her citizens. Federally managed land in Idaho belong to all Americans- remind your legislators that they have a responsibility to YOU to ensure they remain that way. For details on HCR 22, click here:
Oppose HB 278: Pay for Livestock Depredation with Access Funding
Idaho BHA has joined with other members of the Idaho Sportsmen’s Caucus Advisory Council (ISCAC) to oppose House Bill 278. If passed, this legislation will remove funds from the Access Yes! program to reimburse livestock producers for depredation losses. This will not only negatively impact access for sportsmen, it places the financial burden of livestock depredation squarely on the shoulders of Idaho’s hunters and fishermen. Comments on this short-sighted piece of legislation can be made by clicking here:
Support HF 615 and SF 705: Full Funding for Land Conservation Program
Along with its sportsmen and conservation partners, MN BHA recently signed-on to a letter in support of HF 615 and SF 705, which would provide full funding of the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve and a $30 million bonding investment in RIM Reserve this year. RIM protects fish and wildlife habitat from development through the use of conservation easements.
Nuetral SB 109: Revises provisions relating to off-highway vehicles.
SB 109 makes some changes to Nevada's off-highway vehicle registration system based upon feedback from the first year of implementation. Although we are not necessarily opposed to any one of the changes, we'll be keeping an eye on implementation as it does expand some exemptions to registration.
Support AB 396 - Revises provisions relating to the waters of this State.
AB 396 is a great bill for anglers as it would clarify sections of state law dealing with stream accessibility and ensure that anglers would have the right to wade and fish most fishable streams in Nevada.
Oppose AB 293 - Revises provisions relating to off-highway vehicles.
AB 293 makes a bunch of negative changes to Nevada's off-highway vehicle registration system, including limiting law enforcement, exempting many types of vehicles and reducing the size of the registration plate.
Oppose SB 82 - Prohibits the Board of Wildlife Commissioners from authorizing the hunting of black bears.
With no scientific justification, SB 82 would make the black bear a protected mammal in statue and prohibit a black bear hunt. Nevada has a steadily growing bear population and the science supports a limited hunt.
The following is an abbreviated version of the legislation that MT BHA was involved with. Click here for a full description of the legislation that MT BHA was involved with.
Support HB 235: “Corner Crossing” to Access Public Lands.
HB 235 would have allowed hunter access to public land by crossing at the section corners where public lands meet. It would have provided for an amendment to the Montana’s trespass laws and opened up hundreds of over ¾ million acres of public land for public hunting and recreation, particularly in eastern Montana. Even though this bill was the focus of a massive
Oppose HB 404: Public Acquisition of Habitat
HB 404 would reduce the percentage of monies used to purchase wildlife habitat around the state and allocate those funds to the Block Management Program. While in principal it sounds good but from a practical stand point, if the funding is removed from the Habitat Montana Program, the full percentage allocated to habitat will likely never be restored. Potential impacts of this bill include limiting MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks ability to acquire important habitat and conduct important research. At the time of this summary, this bill had been passed on Second Reading by the House and sent to the House Appropriations Committee for a hearing.
Oppose HB 418: Increase Non-Resident License Allocation
MT BHA opposed HB 418, which would have increased the non-resident cap on licenses and special permits for big game from the current 10 percent to 15 percent. Every state that has gone beyond the 10 percent cap for nonresidents has seen that number only steadily increase over the years. MT BHA’s agrees with state law which requires that wildlife be managed primarily for the benefit of resident hunters. Further, MT BHA believes that the state’s wildlife is not for sale and should not be managed for maximum profit. Lastly, MT BHA that the existing 10 percent cap provides a good balance between opportunity and quality hunting for non-residents. This bill was tabled in the House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee.
Oppose HB 512: Use of Motorized Vehicles for Game Retrieval
HB 512 would have allowed the retrieval of game animals using motor vehicles on State Trust Lands or Wildlife Management Area for individuals 60 years or older between the times of 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM. MT BHA opposed this bill because it would have: opened the door for widespread abuse, increased the spread of noxious weeds, been unfair to hunters who are afield midday, spooked game and been a nightmare to enforce. This bill was tabled in the House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee.
Support HB 439: Reforming the State Game Commission
NM BHA got over 700 letters in support of HB 439, which would shield the NM State Game Commission from political influence, while making the commission more responsive to the needs of New Mexico sportsmen, wildlife and habitat. Unfortunately, this bill was defeated despite strong sportsmen support. For more information on this bill and NM BHA’s work on it, click here.
Oppose HB 292/ SB 404: Transfer of Public Lands
NM BHA is working alongside the NM Wildlife Federation to oppose legislation that would transfer federal public lands to the state. The proposed transfer threatens many important regulations that safeguard opportunities for public input, protection of wildlife habitat and public access for sportsmen.
Support HB 2725: OHV Identification
Currently ATVs in Oregon are required to display a registration "decal" that is about the size of a credit card and all but illegible. HB 2725 directs the State Dept. of Parks and Recreation to begin issuing registration "plates" to most ATVs. These plates must be 4 by 7 inches with an ID number at least 1.5 inches high, and they must be displayed in a clearly visible manner. ORVs can only be operated on designated routes and areas on public lands. Having the ability to identify violators is a crucial part of enforcing that rule.
Oppose HB 68: Loss of Public Stream Access
UT BHA worked in partnership with the Utah Stream Access Coalition to successfully defeat HB 68 would have resulted in a loss of public fishing access. HB 68 attempted to circumvent the Public Trust Doctrine by requiring anglers to obtain permission from the adjacent landowner before wading into a public river. UT BHA will continue will to defend the public angling access that we currently enjoy.
Support HB 1632: Requires Visible OHV Identification
WA BHA is working in collaboration with Trout Unlimited, OHV interests and enforcement personnel to pass HB 1632, which would require all ATV’s and UTV’s to display visible identification. The legislation would also provide limited county road access and funding for an OHV safety program. Learn more about these efforts here.