Preserving an American tradition: Maintaining access and increasing opportunities on our public lands
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Sportsmen are the heart and soul of conservation policy in the United States. In the spirit of the first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot, our nation values the “wise use of the Earth and its resources for the lasting good of men” through responsible resource management, conservation and recreation.

However, to ensure conservation and economic growth can be created by our federal lands, it is important to have access to outdoor activities on America’s public lands, and to have secure Second and Tenth Amendment rights. That is why Congress should pass the “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act.” Many of our nation’s sportsmen enjoy access to our public lands, which also makes possible many jobs in the outdoor recreation industry sector. Maintaining access and increasing opportunities on our public lands will help ensure our natural resources are conserved in perpetuity, and helps sustain good, family supporting jobs for millions of Americans.

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American sportsmen annually fund our nation’s legacy of conservation through a “user-pays, public-benefits” system, which provides millions of dollars toward the preservation of our lands and natural resources. In 2015, hunting and recreational shooting activities alone generated $823 million to support the conservation and rehabilitation of public land, and provide more than 80 percent of the annual funding for state fish and game agencies. America needs more hunters and recreational shooters to ensure the sustainability of this system.

In addition to supporting conservation, our nation’s sportsmen create and sustain outdoor recreation jobs, ensuring economic stability and income for millions of American families. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, sportsmen annually generate $65.3 billion in federal tax revenues, a combined $59.2 billion in state and local taxes and 7.6 million American jobs. These jobs are in a diverse assortment of fields ranging from game management to manufacturing that support hard-working American families across the country.

Unfortunately, federal agencies like the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management continue to restrict access to public lands for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting. For many Americans, our public lands are where they have practiced these activities for decades, and remain some of the only locations where they can recreate safely and affordably. Reliable public access to these areas must remain a priority. The SHARE Act safeguards access to our public lands, and features provisions designed to ensure that federal agencies actively work to sustain and expand these opportunities for Americans.

Outdoor sporting activities are deeply engrained in the fabric of America’s culture and heritage. Values instilled by these activities are passed down generation to generation, and these values ensure that our nation’s resources are conserved, economies grow and families thrive. The SHARE Act preserves and enhances these virtues.

With its passage, a much-needed step is advanced to safeguard these opportunities. Without it, conservation of these lands will diminish and American outdoor traditions – and the jobs and economic opportunities they support – will remain threatened.

Bishop is chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources.