Bob Goodlatte: Preserving America’s outdoor heritage

bob goodlatteFor many families in the Sixth Congressional District, sitting down at the dinner table is welcome ground for an old tale of a past hunting or fishing trip. Whether it’s a love of the sport, or simply spending time in the great outdoors, hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting are traditions shared by the young and old. Ensuring that these activities are available to share with future generations is an important part of our heritage as Americans.

The Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, or SHARE Act, is a package of bills that revises several existing programs to expand access to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting. The SHARE Act, which passed the House of Representatives with my support, also helps eliminate some of the federal red tape standing in the way of outdoor sporting activities.

The federal government currently owns 640 million acres of land, or roughly 30 percent of the United States. In Virginia, the federal government owns 2.5 million acres of land, including vast areas in the Sixth District. Oftentimes, federal agencies block access to hunting, fishing, or recreational shooting on these lands. One critical aspect of the SHARE Act is that it will require federal agencies, like the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, to open certain public lands for recreational sports. These are your American taxpayer funded lands – why shouldn’t you have access to them?

Our Second Amendment rights are safeguarded by the United States Constitution. This is a fundamental individual right that neither Congress nor the Administration may infringe upon. The SHARE Act includes a provision protecting law-abiding citizens’ right to carry a firearm on Army Corps of Engineer lands, like campgrounds.

Each year, $2.5 billion is spent in Virginia alone on fishing and hunting. Opening additional lands to these activities will only help to boost the economic benefits for our communities. I understand the importance of future generations of Virginians having access to the great outdoors, without roadblocks put in front of them by the federal government. Hunting, fishing, and recreation opportunities should be increased, not reduced, and the SHARE Act goes a long way toward strengthening the outdoor heritage shared by millions of Americans.

Bob Goodlatte represents the Sixth District of Virginia in Congress.

         
 

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