Western Caucus Members Essential to Sportsmen and Conservationist Victory

Mar 2, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul A. Gosar D.D.S. (AZ-04), Chairman Emeritus Rep. Rob Bishop (UT-01), Chief Defense and Officer Chris Stewart (UT-02) and Western Caucus members Rep. Jason Smith (MO-08), Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Rep. Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Rep. Doug Collins (GA-09), and Rep. Pete Sessions (TX-32) issued the following statements after U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed a Secretarial Order overturning a midnight United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) directive that banned the use of traditional lead based ammunition and tackle on federal lands:

"Outdoor recreation is about both our heritage and our economy. Between hunting, fishing, motorized recreation, camping and more, the industry generates thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity,” said Secretary Zinke. “Over the past eight years however, hunting, and recreation enthusiasts have seen trails closed and dramatic decreases in access to public lands across the board. It worries me to think about hunting and fishing becoming activities for the land-owning elite. This package of secretarial orders will expand access for outdoor enthusiasts and also make sure the community's voice is heard."

“I want to thank Secretary Zinke for his swift action in removing the burden of this “midnight rule” issued in the final hours of the Obama presidency. This rule had no basis in science and was written without any input from those most affected by its enactment. Sportsmen and fishermen are some of our countries greatest conservationists. This order only served to hinder them from participating in the recreational use of federal lands they’ve enjoyed for decades,” said Congressman Smith. “I look forward to working with Secretary Zinke and the President to continue expanding access to public lands and protecting the rights of sportsmen and fishermen.”

“On his first day on the job, Secretary Zinke has shown that he is here to listen and to serve; a welcome departure from the actions displayed by the Department of the Interior over the past eight years. By repealing this misguided  Fish and Wildlife Service directive that failed to involve those closest to the issue, our hunters and fishermen can continue to enjoy the outdoors and help maintain healthy population levels of wildlife,” said Chairman Gosar. “I couldn’t be happier to see reason and logic prevail and look forward to the many successes we will accomplish with Zinke holding the reins.

Congressman Bishop stated, “Americans have seen their access to federal lands and Second Amendment rights deliberately eroded for decades by liberals and special interest groups in Washington. Issued in secret and without people’s input, this ban was wrong and would do nothing to benefit fish and wildlife. Today’s order represents an important check on executive abuse and reverses what was a deliberate attack on Americans’ fundamental rights and privileges.”

Congressman Stewart said, “Secretary Zinke hit the bull’s-eye today. The last second attempt to ban lead ammo and tackle was simply nonsensical and ignores the fact that hunters and anglers are the most dedicated conservationists.”

Congressman Lamborn remarked, “I applaud Secretary Zinke for taking action to stop this burdensome and unnecessary directive from the Fish and Wildlife Service—and for standing up for our nation’s sportsman and anglers and the 2nd Amendment. This directive, which was issued on the last day of the Obama Administration without public input, only served to hinder sportsman and fisherman, some of our Country’s most dedicated conservationists, from participating in recreational use of our federal lands.”

Congressman LaMalfa said, “I am very happy to see that the Secretary Zinke is overturning this last-minute directive issued by the USFWS on the final day of the previous Administration. This misguided rule to ban lead-based ammo and tackle would only harm the very same people who have been excellent stewards of public land for decades. The many sportsmen in California and elsewhere who use these lead-based materials are critical to controlling healthy population levels for many species of animals that inhabit these ecosystems. This directive was ill-conceived and implemented without the input of either Congress or sportsmen, and I applaud the Secretary for rescinding it.”

“Sportsmen and anglers were repeatedly targeted under the previous administration, including by attempts to restrict their use of ammo and tackle on federal lands that should be accessible to all Americans. I applaud Secretary Zinke’s decision to restore the rights of these conservationists by overturning the overreach of the Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Congressman Collins.

“I am delighted to see Secretary Zinke is listening to members of the Western Caucus and taking action to overturn one of President Obama’s more onerous and radical “midnight rules”. Simply put, this executive order will ensure sportsmen and fishermen across Texas can continue to practice their Second Amendment rights on public land. I strongly support this Executive Order and look forward working with my colleagues and the President to continue to roll back unnecessary Obama era regulations,” said Congressman Sessions.

Background:

On March 2, 2017 Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued a Secretarial Order 3346, which increases hunting, fishing, and recreation opportunities nationwide. The orders deliver on promises made by both President Donald J. Trump and Secretary Zinke to expand access to America’s public lands. The action was hailed by representatives from sportsmen, conservation, and recreation organizations. The order overturned a midnight directive issued by the Obama regulation that banned lead ammunition and fish tackle from being used on USFWS waters, facilities and lands.

The text of Secretarial Order 3346 can be found HERE.

On February 7, 2017, Western Caucus Member Jason Smith led a letter that was signed by Chairman Gosar and 30 other members of the House encouraging the new administration to overturn the Obama Administration’s misguided directive. Click HERE to read the full letter.

(Courtesy of Rep. Jason Smith)

On January 19, 2017, the last full day of the previous administration, the USFWS issued a director’s order phasing out the use of traditional lead ammunition and tackle on federal lands over a five-year period. This decision was a blow to sportsmen and fishermen across the country and further limited traditional recreational access to public lands.

Going back to European settlement of North America, lead has been traditionally used for ammunition and tackle by hunters and fishermen alike. To date, no scientific study has linked this use of lead to any negative impact on a population level to any species or ecosystem on a local or regional level. USFWS issued this directive without notice and without giving stakeholders any time to comment.