House Resources Committee Approves Bills to Amend Pittman-Robertson

House Resources Committee Approves Bills to Amend Pittman-Robertson

The House Natural Resources Committee recently passed two bills that would make changes to the Pittman-Robertson Act improving public shooting opportunity and increasing flexibility for funds to be used for the recruitment of hunters and shooters. The Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (H.R. 788) passed by voice vote on April 18, while the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act (H.R. 2591) was approved by unanimous consent on May 8.

Target practice

H.R. 788 would reduce the state matching requirements for acquisition of land for or development of public target shooting facilities from 25 percent to 10 percent. In addition, funds used for shooting range development could accrue for up to five years instead of the current cap of two years. The legislation also includes a Sense of Congress provision encouraging the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to cooperate with states, local agencies and partners to conduct range cleanup activities and waste removal to encourage the continued use of public lands for target practice.

“This bill gives states much-needed flexibility to create safe, quality shooting facilities on public lands for hunters,” noted Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) in a statement. “It will also enable recreational shooters to further their education and training activities and ensure sportsmen and women continue enjoying a quality target shooting range experience. This bill is supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders and is a win-win for hunters, sportsmen and wildlife restoration.”

The Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act adds that one of the purposes of the law is to provide financial and technical assistance to the states to promote hunting and recreational shooting. The legislation does place a cap on the amount of funding that could be used for public relations efforts to ensure that the majority of funds continue to be used for wildlife conservation and management. In addition, the bill would provide $5 million annually through the Multistate Conservation Grant Program for coordinated efforts to recruit and retain new hunters and recreational shooters. Currently states are limited on their ability to use PR funds for public outreach efforts; this legislation is similar to provisions added in 1998 to the Sportfish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund allowing revenues from excise taxes on sportfishing gear and motor boat fuels to promote boating and fishing through the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. State recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) efforts have been increasing as participation numbers and excise tax revenues decline. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) has introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate, S. 1613.

“With a national decline in hunting and recreational fishing, Pittman-Robertson funds are shrinking and our state and local habitats are suffering, which is why I am pushing this legislation to give states more flexibility in how they use their PR funds and hopefully attract more Americans to the outdoors in the process,” said Congressman Austin Scott (R-GA) the lead sponsor of the bill. “I am very pleased the Committee favorably passed my PR modernization bill, and I will keep pressing until our decades-old wildlife conservation funding receives the critical updates it deserves.”

Photo Credit
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
May 14, 2018