While the text to Senator Mark Udall’s S. 1249 is still not available, I was able to find his release on the bill which gives a broad outline. All in all it looks like a good bill.
Here in western North Carolina we are surrounded by Federal lands with two National Forests, one National Park, and TVA maintained land. In many of the counties, the amount of Federally owned land reaches 90%. Even with all that Federal land, there is one public range maintained by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and three (and maybe a fourth) maintained by the USFS in Nantahala National Forest. There are none that I can find in Pisgah National Forest which borders the largest city in western North Carolina – Asheville.
Posted: Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Today, Mark Udall re-introduced legislation to help states construct and maintain safe public shooting ranges. The bill, the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, would help ensure that there are enough accessible ranges where hunters and marksmen can safely practice recreational shooting.
Under current law – the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act – an excise tax is collected on sporting equipment and ammunition, which states can use for activities such as wildlife restoration and hunter education programs. However, it has limited effectiveness in establishing and maintaining shooting ranges, which are declining in number. Udall’s Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, co-sponsored by Senators Jim Risch, Michael Bennet and Jon Tester, would amend the law to give states more flexibility to use existing funds to create and maintain shooting ranges.
“The number of places in our communities and on public lands where Colorado sportsmen and women can safely shoot and target practice has steadily dwindled,” Udall said. “This bill would give states more flexibility to use federal dollars – that have already been allocated to them – to create safe, new public places to shoot. It would be a triple win for sporting and conservation communities: states can create higher quality and safer shooting ranges, more Coloradans can take up the sport, and it would generate more money for future conservation and hunter education efforts.”
Udall’s bill would:
• Increase the amount of money states can contribute from their allotted Pittman-Robertson funds to 90 percent of the cost to improve or construct a public target range from the current limit of 75 percent. This would reduce local and state matching requirements from 25 percent to 10 percent.
• Allow the Pittman-Robertson funds allotted to a state to remain available and accrue for five fiscal years for use in acquiring land for, expanding, or constructing a public target range on federal or non-federal land. Under current law, states must use these funds within one year.
• Limit the legal liability exposure to the federal land management agencies regarding the management and use of federal land for target practice or marksmanship training.
• Encourage the federal land management agencies to cooperate with state and local authorities to maintain target ranges on federal land so as to encourage their continued use.