The Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council (HSSCC), a federal advisory council of 18 conservation leaders who provide recommendations and advice to the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior, met on March 21 to receive agency reports and provide guidance on behalf of the sportsmen’s community.
On the same day, Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed a new Secretarial Order (S.O. 3373) with the purpose of evaluating public access in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Public Land Disposals and Exchanges. Specifically, the S.O. directs the BLM to amend its Land Use Planning Handbook to ensure that public access for hunting and fishing is considered before BLM lands are exchanged or disposed of.
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President Jeff Crane serves as Chairman of the HSSCC, and works closely with the Secretaries on issues related to public access for hunting and recreational shooting. This includes implementation of Secretarial Orders 3347, 3356, 3362, and now 3373, which all benefit public access to Federal lands for outdoor recreation as well as fish and wildlife habitat conservation.
During the meeting, senior representatives from the Agriculture and Interior Departments (USDA and DOI), including Secretary Sonny Perdue and Acting Secretary Bernhardt, joined the HSSCC to discuss moving forward with several specific policy recommendations, including:
- DOI support for a BLM Geodatabase of public lands;
- Public uses as an aspect of the National Wildlife Refuge System Strategic Growth Policy;
- An event to celebrate the recovery and restoration of the wild turkey as a wildlife conservation success story;
- Chronic Wasting Disease management;
- Man-made water sources on Federal public lands;
- Recreational shooting on Federal lands; and
- Sunday hunting on National Forests in North Carolina.