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senate Bill S. 556

Making federal land publicly accessible

What is Senate Bill S. 556?

This bill would make land owned by the government more easy for the public to access. Land owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or the Forest Service would be required to have a way for the public to access the land for certain activities. Those activities would include hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting. 

Basically, if someone wanted to go hunting on federally-owned land, the BLM or Forest Service would have to give the hunter a way to do so legally. The exception to this rule is that if the federal agency decides to close the land, they aren't required to provide access.

The bill also has some miscellaneous provisions. Specifically, it:

  • Requires that federal land and waterways are made more accessible for film crews of five people or less;
  • Stops the National Park Service from banning people from transporting bows and crossbows in National Parks, assuming those people meet certain requirements; and
  • Reallocates money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to ensure the public can access federal land for hunting, fishing, and other recreational activities.

Impact

People who want to use federal public land; the BLM; the Forest Service; the National Park Service.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 556

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) explained in her press release that the bill created a presumption that federal land was "open unless closed" rather than the current "closed unless open":
"For too long, access to our public lands for hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and other outdoor activities has been restricted at the whim of the federal government. My bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act that was passed as part of the broad energy bill instructs federal agencies to facilitate the expansion of access to our public lands by declaring that our lands are ‘open unless closed.’ The Senate’s approval of this measure is a big step forward to allowing long-held traditions to be passed down from generation to generation without the federal government getting in the way."
However, the bill could hurt endangered wildlife populations. As Wayne Pacelle at the Humane Society argues, if the bill was enacted:
"public lands would be “open unless closed” to hunting and fur trapping, regardless of whether they’re compatible with other land uses or threatened or endangered species, and closing lands would require a burdensome bureaucratic process. On top of that, the bill would force land managers to prioritize hunting and trapping above other outdoor activities, effectively excluding a large proportion of the American public from enjoying our national spaces, including in designated “wilderness areas."
Of Note: There are a few bills similar to this one in Congress. One is a bill that passed the House which has the same provisions as this bill with a few additional ones about wildlife. Sen. Murkowski has also introduced another bill about public land use as a precursor to a current bill in the Senate.

Media:

AKA

Sportsmen's Act of 2015

Official Title

A bill to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
    IntroducedFebruary 25th, 2015
    Have some backbone and stand up to the NRA. It's getting very painful to watch congress kiss up to them.
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    If this is 12 different proposals, let's have 12 different votes.
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    Legal hunters care more about the animal populations than left wing tree hugging who only care about optics, and know nothing about hunting and traditional conservation. Wildlife populations can't get too large or too small. They must be kept in balance. The liberals can't tell a kids water gun from an uzi.
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    I don't agree because this may then pose a threat to people who are enjoying numerous outdoor activities. If I wanted to go hiking in a national forest I shouldn't have to worry about getting killed because someone was negligently shooting their firearm.
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    I do not klling anything but enjoy the sport of shooting and of fishing
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    However this shouldn't cost anything to do. Public land should be able to be used for any Public reason.
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    This is another smoke screen, similar to the constitutional amendment in Idaho to establish hunting as a right. The amendment was a smoke screen to prevent the Idaho Department of Fish and Game from having water rights necessary to protect natal anadromous fish.
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    There should be no hunting in National Parks, or in wilderness areas. The use of other NPS lands should be on a case by case basis.
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    Stupid
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    Game and sport hunting should be outlawed. You want to take part in "ecological hunting"?, join the parks department and become a Ranger. They should be the only ones allowed to carry out herd culling. Subsistence hunting could be allowed with special permits.
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    The people most likely to take advantage of this legislation are most likely to be conscientious and regard the land with reverence.
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    Humans have got to ms
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    The land should be turned over to the states. The federal government should not "own" this land. It belongs to the people.
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    It is our land. It should also be returned to the states.
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    We really don't need hunter's in protected wild life areas and these national parks. You're just asking for people to get accidentally shot.
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    This bill is like letting Charles Manson decide the court case of a mass murderer.
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    Let's save something of our planet for the future. We don't have to use it all up so fast.
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    Another NRA venture into public spaces. A waste of paper
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    This is a what the fuck bill? Hunters and Fishermen do not protect resources! They use resources. They do spend lost on licenses, stamps , ammunition and guns! We still need state and Federal regulation to protect the wildlife and the land.
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    We have too much shooting in the US already. And hunters are not stewards of wildlife, nature is much better and more reliable.
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