Read & React: What House Bill 1825 Means To You

Read & React: What House Bill 1825 Means To You

Believe it or not, there is no language in current law that protects the rights of sportsmen to hunt and fish on U.S. Forest Service (USFS) or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land — a fact that has not gone unnoticed by anti-hunting forces. It has been a long-held assumption that hunting and fishing were allowed on public lands, but without specific legislation that guarantees that right, sportsmen may find themselves shut out of areas to which they have enjoyed access for years.

House Bill 1825 — which is known as the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act — was introduced by Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich., to guarantee the right to hunt and fish on BLM and USFS lands. The act essentially restricts the ability of state and local governments from taking away access to these areas.

Benishek — a medical doctor and lifelong resident of Michigan's Upper Peninsula — is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys fishing, as well as hunting for grouse and whitetail deer around his home. He views this legislation as a critical step in protecting the rights of sportsmen for generations to come.

"We have to ensure that our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy hunting and fishing on federal lands forever," Benishek said. In his home district, many hunters utilize public lands, which is why the bill seeks to insure hunters and anglers are not denied access to public lands across the country.


"It's hard for me to think of something I enjoy more than heading out from my camp in the Ottawa National Forest in October and doing some bird hunting," Benishek says.


Without legislation protecting the right to hunt and fish on public land, sportsmen are relying on long-held traditions to guarantee their right to access. Anti-hunting factions have tried to limit or eliminate hunting and fishing on public lands, and without specific language in place that guarantees access to sportsmen, our rights are in serious jeopardy.


HR 1825, introduced on May 3, offers very specific protection to hunters and hunter rights on public lands. Specifically, the bill protects hunters in the following ways:

Recognizes the Value of Sportsmen

Section 2 of this 14-page bill recognizes hunters play a critical role in maintaining and financially supporting wildlife populations, stating hunting is "environmentally acceptable and beneficial." Additionally, the bill recognizes the fact that opportunities to hunt are declining, which is not good for wildlife. HR 1825 acknowledges "the public interest would be served, and our citizens' fish and wildlife resources benefitted, by actions to ensure that opportunities are facilitated to engage in fishing and hunting on Federal public land."


Nelson Freeman, government affairs and hunter advocacy specialist for Safari Club International (SCI), applauded the bill.

"The Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act will recognize the rightful place of recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting on federal lands," Freeman said. Both SCI and the NRA support HR 1825's efforts to guarantee the rights of sportsmen.

Creates an "Open Until Closed" Policy


Under HR 1825, public lands shall be "opened until closed" for hunting and angling. What does that mean? In short, the bill states that all public land should be open to sportsmen unless there is a legitimate reason why access should be denied, such as public safety concerns.

If either the BLM or the USFS decides to close any portion of federal lands to sportsmen, they must file a report with the Natural Resources Committee outlining the reason for the closure and explaining why access to federal land should be denied. Essentially, the bill states that sportsmen have a right to hunt and fish on public land, and any agency that chooses to deny that right must justify their decision.

No Federal Closure on State Hunting Seasons

State wildlife departments are typically charged with monitoring and managing wildlife populations, and hunting plays a vital role in this. Currently, the USFS and BLM have the right to close seasons arbitrarily despite the recommendations from state wildlife agencies. HR 1825 severely restricts the power of federal agencies to close state-approved hunting seasons.

Protects the Rights of Gun Owners

Benishek's bill guarantees access to federal lands for recreational shooters as well. Even though recreational shooters don't pay the license fees that hunters and fisherman pay, target shooting is still an enjoyable outdoor activity and — when done responsibly — poses no significant threat to the land or wildlife. There is very specific language throughout the bill that places recreational shooting under the umbrella of protection, meaning that target shooting is considered an acceptable activity on federal lands.

Insures Access to Public Land

Just because hunting is allowed doesn't mean that access is always guaranteed, but under HR 1825 federal lands would have to be accessible to sportsmen. Anti-hunting groups have often used limited access as a means to stop or restrict hunting and fishing activities, and HR 1825 insures that no agency shall prevent legal hunters and fishermen from accessing federal land without cause.

What You Can Do

HR 1825 may be voted on as early as next fall, Benishek believes. The bill is an essential piece of legislation for hunters, and it marks an important step toward protecting our rights now and for future generations of hunters. Sportsmen and women need to contact their representatives and urge them to vote for HR 1825. The bill is important because it takes a significant step toward preserving a right that many of us take for granted.

Recommended for You

Every hunter needs a rimfire workhorse for varmints and predators. Guns

Best Rimfire Rifles for 2019

Keith Wood - April 23, 2019

Every hunter needs a rimfire workhorse for varmints and predators.

Steiner Predator AF Binoculars: Putting The Porro Back in Quality Binoculars Optics

Steiner Predator AF Binoculars: Quality at the Right Price

Joe Arterburn - May 28, 2019

Steiner Predator AF Binoculars: Putting The Porro Back in Quality Binoculars

Whether you're pursuing black bears, moose or whitetails, Quebec will put you on the right track. North America

Big-Game Adventure Beckons in Quebec

Lynn Burkhead

Whether you're pursuing black bears, moose or whitetails, Quebec will put you on the right...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 13: Forest Buffalo

Craig Boddington returns to Mozambique's fame Coutada 10 for a shot a forest buffalo that's eluded him for 10 years.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 8: Midnight Sun Grizzlies

Kevin Steele and CZ-USA's Jason Morton return to Alaska's arctic tundra for Kevin's second and Jason's third attempt on the legendary species. Things are looking up on day one but time will tell if the boys will get a shot a the king of the tundra.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 16: Cedar Break Bucks

Kevin Steele treks to the cedar breaks and coulees of north-central Nebraska for a shot at a big prairie whitetail.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Follow these basic steps to prepare your meat, then pair it with one of these delicious marinades. Recipes

8 Best Venison Marinades

Hank Shaw

Follow these basic steps to prepare your meat, then pair it with one of these delicious...

Didn't draw? Here are five great places you can make a last-minute mule deer hunt. North America

5 Great Last-Minute Public-land Hunts

Joseph von Benedikt

Didn't draw? Here are five great places you can make a last-minute mule deer hunt.

If you're spending time in the outdoors where you might encounter bears, carry one of these guns. Survival

Which Firearm Is Best for Bear Defense?

Larry Case - July 11, 2018

If you're spending time in the outdoors where you might encounter bears, carry one of these...

See More Stories

More News

Mike Fies was home getting ready for Christmas when his boss called. A woman not far from Fies' News

Ghost Cats: Eastern Cougars Don't Exist!

David Hart - October 24, 2016

Mike Fies was home getting ready for Christmas when his boss called. A woman not far from...

A magnificent male specimen of charismatic megafauna is shot and killed and the public erupts in News

Hunting Without Apology

Thomas McIntyre - October 03, 2016

A magnificent male specimen of charismatic megafauna is shot and killed and the public erupts...

We live in an extremely fluid world where public perceptions and opinions on issues can change by News

10 Things You Can Do to Ensure the Future of Hunting

Keith Wood - October 18, 2016

We live in an extremely fluid world where public perceptions and opinions on issues can change...

See More News

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.