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113th Congress                                            Rept. 113-337
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                      Part 1

======================================================================



 
    RECREATIONAL FISHING AND HUNTING HERITAGE AND OPPORTUNITIES ACT

                                _______
                                

January 31, 2014.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Hastings of Washington, from the Committee on Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 1825]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 1825) to direct Federal public land management 
officials to exercise their authority under existing law to 
facilitate use of and access to Federal public lands for 
fishing, sport hunting, and recreational shooting, and for 
other purposes, having considered the same, report favorably 
thereon without amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 1825 is to direct Federal public land 
management officials to exercise their authority under existing 
law to facilitate use of and access to Federal public lands for 
fishing, sport hunting, and recreational shooting.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    H.R. 1825, the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage 
and Opportunities Act, clarifies federal authorities and 
policies for the management of hunting and fishing on public 
lands. It provides additional protections for continued public 
access to public land for the purpose of recreational fishing, 
hunting, and shooting sports on U.S. Forest Service (FS) and 
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. The provisions of H.R. 
1825 require federal land managers to support and facilitate 
public use and access for hunting, fishing and recreational 
shooting and create an ``open until closed'' management regime 
for these activities on FS and BLM land, but does not give 
these uses priority over other multiple uses. It requires an 
evaluation of the impact on hunting, fishing and recreational 
shooting in land and resource planning and eliminates 
redundancies in environmental review of hunting, fishing and 
recreational shooting opportunities. The bill restates, in 
unambiguous language, Congress' consistent position that BLM 
and FS lands designated as wilderness, wilderness eligible, or 
suitable and primitive or semi-primitive areas are open to all 
legal forms of hunting, fishing and recreational shooting 
unless there are good reasons to close such areas. It also 
forecloses opportunities for continued nuisance lawsuits by 
classifying hunting, fishing and recreational shooting as 
``necessary'' to meet the minimum requirements for the 
administration of wilderness.
    Although Congress has spoken many times on the issue of 
hunting, fishing and shooting sports on our multiple-use public 
lands and has always come down on the side of allowing these 
sporting activities to take place under state laws, these 
activities continue to come under attack and legal challenge 
from groups that are opposed to hunting in general as well as 
from those who seek to restrict these activities in designated 
wilderness areas. By clarifying the statutory obligations of 
land managing agencies, H.R. 1825 protects and fosters fishing, 
hunting, and shooting traditions on federal public lands to 
ensure that federal land management agencies--primarily the FS 
and the BLM--exercise their land management discretion to 
facilitate access for sportsmen activities. Under the 
provisions of H.R. 1825, these activities will be considered 
authorized and approved and thereby limit the ability of anti-
hunting advocacy groups to use any ambiguity in the laws and 
force the land managing agencies to defend these activities in 
court or through the quagmire of administrative procedures, 
diverting resources that could otherwise be used for public 
recreation and wildlife conservation activities.
    The provisions of H.R. 1825 are needed to restore the legal 
status quo that prevailed for decades until a small number of 
federal court cases--primarily in San Francisco's Ninth 
Circuit--effectively rewrote these provisions, disregarded 
plain language enacted by Congress as well as years of 
established precedent and practice by professional federal land 
managers. Wildlife conservation, for example, is the primary 
mission of all National Wildlife Refuge units. Consistent with 
these purposes, for decades the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(FWS) and the Arizona Department of Game and Fish (AZGF) along 
with private conservationists constructed and maintained water 
``guzzlers'' in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona to 
enhance and maintain bighorn sheep populations. When Congress 
designated portions of Kofa as wilderness in the 1980s, it 
recognized these activities and concluded that the water for 
wildlife program on Kofa was consistent with the 
``supplemental'' purposes of wilderness as expressly set forth 
in section 4(a) of the 1964 Wilderness Act (Public Law 88-577; 
16 U.S.C. Sec. 1133(a)).
    Nevertheless, in 2007, activists sued FWS to terminate the 
water for wildlife program and remove the guzzlers on the 
grounds that Kofa was a wilderness first (and no structures 
were to be permitted) and a wildlife refuge established for the 
conservation of bighorn sheep second. FWS and wildlife 
conservationists strongly disagreed. A U.S. District court 
upheld FWS and AZGF and allowed the water-for-wildlife program 
to continue. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit 
did not. H.R. 1825 merely reiterates the plain language of the 
1964 Wilderness Act that its purposes are ``supplemental'' to 
the primary purposes of the underlying federal land 
designation--in this case a wildlife refuge. This change, 
necessitated by judicial disregard of plain statutory language, 
is not a change in the Wilderness Act but restoration of the 
legal status quo that existed from 1964 until 2010.
    In certain other cases, Ninth Circuit decisions also 
overruled professional agency determinations and disregarded 
long-established understandings of the ``necessity'' standard 
set forth in section 4(c) of the 1964 Wilderness Act. To ensure 
that anti-fishing/anti-hunting activists may not use these 
recent court precedents to attack fishing or hunting within 
wilderness areas as not being ``necessary,'' H.R. 1825 
specifies that opportunities to fish and hunt on wilderness 
lands are in fact ``necessary.'' Nothing in this language, 
tailored to reverse inappropriate judicial activism, authorizes 
any forms of roads or mechanized vehicle access in these units. 
Nothing in the bill includes any references to allowing, 
directly or indirectly, roads or vehicles in wilderness areas. 
Section 4(e) clearly states that this necessity determination 
provision, ``shall not authorize or facilitate commodity 
development, use or extraction, motorized recreational access 
or use that is not otherwise allowed under the Wilderness Act 
(16 U.S.C. 1131 et seq.), or permanent road construction or 
maintenance within designated wilderness areas.''
    A similar problem with regard to the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) is also corrected in the bill. Again, H.R. 
1825 is narrowly tailored to fix a problem created by judicial 
disregard of previously enacted law. In this case, the 1997 
Refuge Improvement Act (which passed the House with one 
dissenting vote and was signed into law by President Clinton) 
provided that fishing and hunting were ``priority public uses'' 
on National Wildlife Refuge units and that FWS would facilitate 
these uses by preparing Comprehensive Conservation Plans (CCPs) 
for each Refuge. Per the Act, the environmental effects of 
fishing and hunting would be assessed and evaluated in these 
CCPs.
    Six years later animal rights activists filed suit seeking 
to close hunting on over 50 Refuges. They argued the CCPs 
weren't enough to satisfy NEPA. FWS argued that no purpose 
would be served, and finite time and money wasted, by assessing 
the ``cumulative effects,'' for example, of deer hunting on 
Georgia's Bond Swamp Refuge, woodcock hunting in the Canaan 
Valley Refuge in West Virginia, duck hunting on a North Dakota 
refuge, and moose hunting on a remote Alaska unit. None of the 
activities were in fact connected so there could be no 
cumulative effects. This fell on deaf ears in the courtroom and 
a D.C. federal court sided with the anti-hunting activists by 
ordering FWS to prepare additional cumulative effects 
assessments. FWS proceeded to spend the next three years 
wasting thousands of hours and dollars to prepare these 
unnecessary cumulative effects assessments. H.R. 1825 
reiterates the intent of the 1997 Refuge Act that the CCPs are 
sufficient to satisfy NEPA and spare FWS the time and cost of 
preparing superfluous cumulative effects analyses of these 
priority public uses. It is far better for the FWS to target 
its resources at on-the-ground conservation and management of 
the National Wildlife Refuge System.
    The conservation movement was started by American sportsmen 
a century ago and since then almost all of our most successful 
wildlife conservation programs have been associated with 
recreational hunting and fishing. Species that were once rare, 
such as wild turkeys, deer, bear and wood ducks, are now 
plentiful as a result of private efforts by sportsmen and 
scientific management by state fish and game departments. H. R. 
1825 supports sound wildlife conservation and recognizes the 
conservation benefits of protecting and extending recreational 
sporting activities.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 1825 was introduced on May 3, 2013 by Congressman Dan 
Benishek (R-MI). The bill was referred to the Committee on 
Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the 
Subcommittees on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation and 
Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs. The bill was 
additionally referred to the Committee on Agriculture. On May 
9, 2013, the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental 
Regulation held a hearing on the bill. On June 12, 2013, the 
Natural Resources Committee met to consider the bill. The 
Subcommittees were discharged by unanimous consent. Congressman 
DeFazio (D-OR) offered amendment designated .027 to the bill; 
the amendment was not adopted by a rollcall vote of 18 to 24, 
as follows:


    Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) offered amendment 
designated .046 to the bill; the amendment was not adopted by a 
bipartisan rollcall vote of 15 to 26, as follows:


    The bill was then adopted and ordered favorably reported to 
the House of Representatives by a bipartisan rollcall vote of 
28 to 15, as follows:


            COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Natural Resources' oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives requires an estimate and 
a comparison by the Committee of the costs which would be 
incurred in carrying out this bill. However, clause 3(d)(2)(B) 
of that rule provides that this requirement does not apply when 
the Committee has included in its report a timely submitted 
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Under clause 3(c)(3) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 
403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has 
received the following cost estimate for this bill from the 
Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

H.R. 1825--Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities 
        Act

    H.R. 1825 would require federal land management agencies to 
provide access to certain federal lands for hunting, fishing, 
and recreational shooting activities. The bill also would 
require those agencies to prepare annual reports identifying 
lands that have been closed to such activities. Based on 
information provided by the affected agencies, CBO estimates 
that implementing the legislation would have no significant 
impact on the federal budget. Enacting H.R. 1825 would not 
affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go 
procedures do not apply.
    Because the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, 
and other land management agencies have the authority to allow 
hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting on lands under 
their jurisdictions, CBO expects that implementing the bill 
would not significantly affect agency operations. In addition, 
the activities necessary to complete the annual reports 
required under the bill are similar to activities performed by 
the affected agencies under current law. Therefore, we estimate 
that implementing the legislation would have no significant 
impact on the budgets of those agencies.
    H.R. 1825 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Jeff LaFave. The 
estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.
    2. Section 308(a) of Congressional Budget Act. As required 
by clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives and section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget 
Act of 1974, this bill does not contain any new budget 
authority, spending authority, credit authority, or an increase 
or decrease in revenues or tax expenditures. Based on 
information provided by the affected agencies, CBO estimates 
that implementing the legislation would have no significant 
impact on the federal budget.
    3. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or 
objective of this bill is to direct Federal public land 
management officials to exercise their authority under existing 
law to facilitate use of and access to Federal public lands for 
fishing, sport hunting, and recreational shooting.

                           EARMARK STATEMENT

    This bill does not contain any Congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined 
under clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                       COMPLIANCE WITH H. RES. 5

    Directed Rule Making. The Chairman does not believe that 
this bill directs any executive branch official to conduct any 
specific rule-making proceedings.
    Duplication of Existing Programs. This bill does not 
establish or reauthorize a program of the federal government 
known to be duplicative of another program. Such program was 
not included in any report from the Government Accountability 
Office to Congress pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139 
or identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance published pursuant to the Federal Program 
Information Act (Public Law 95-220, as amended by Public Law 
98-169) as relating to other programs.

                PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing 
law.

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    For generations, American families have taken advantage of 
the hunting and fishing opportunities on the majority of 
federal public lands. As consistent supporters of recreation on 
public lands including hunting and fishing, among other 
activities, we have welcomed the opportunity to work with all 
stakeholders to ensure that future generations can continue 
this great tradition by ensuring access, as well as ensuring 
proper, sustainable management to maintain the balance of 
competing interests.
    Opportunities to hunt and fish on public land are abundant. 
These activities are already allowed in designated wilderness 
areas and in wildlife refuges. Proponents of this bill are 
simply interested in an ideological agenda of rolling back 
environmental protections as well as removing landmark 
conservation laws that have protected our treasured public 
lands for decades.
    Because of the wide-ranging support for hunting and 
fishing, H.R. 1825 could be bipartisan, noncontroversial 
legislation. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the goal 
of this measure.
    Rather, H.R. 1825 includes sweeping provisions that would 
undermine the Wilderness Act, National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) and the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration 
Act. For example, Section 4(e)(1) would permit temporary roads, 
motorized equipment and motorboats, use of motor vehicles, 
landing of aircraft, structures and installations, and other 
forms of mechanical transport in designated wilderness if it is 
to support and facilitate recreational fishing, hunting, and 
shooting opportunities. This section could threaten the 
wilderness characteristics of some of America's wildest and 
most treasured places.
    The bill also waives NEPA for all decisions regarding 
amendments to land use plans or refuge conservation plans 
concerning hunting or fishing. While these activities are 
appropriate uses of public lands, they clearly have impacts on 
those lands and the general public, including hunters and 
fishermen, should be consulted on those decisions through NEPA 
and other laws.
    H.R. 1825 uses an issue on where there is broad agreement--
the importance of hunting and fishing on public lands--as cover 
to make unnecessary changes to landmark conservation laws. If 
enacted, H.R. 1825 could destroy the wilderness character of 
many designated wilderness areas and permanently alter wildlife 
refuge management. As a result, enactment of H.R. 1825 would 
destroy wildlife habitat, severely limiting opportunities for 
the recreational pursuits the bill claims to protect.
    We support hunting and fishing on federal lands and we 
stand ready to work constructively with the Majority to promote 
and enhance responsible recreational opportunities. H.R. 1825 
does neither.
                                   Peter DeFazio,
                                           Ranking Member, Committee on 
                                               Natural Resources.
                                   Raul Grijalva,
                                           Ranking Member, Subcommittee 
                                               on Public Lands and 
                                               Environmental 
                                               Regulation.