Preserving and Modernizing an Arkansas Tradition
As I often travel between home and Washington, D.C., I’m constantly reminded how blessed we are to live in The Natural State. With its beautiful rivers, majestic mountains and incredible wildlife, Arkansas has long celebrated and utilized these resources in a variety of ways. The abundance of natural treasures is one of the many reasons people are drawn to the state for recreation opportunities.
Outdoor recreation is a way of life that has shaped me and countless other Arkansans who enjoy the opportunity to explore the over 100,000 miles of streams and rivers, 600,000 acres of lakes, five world-class Epic Rides Mountain biking paths, hundreds of miles of trails and over 3.2 million acres of public land. In 2021, outdoor recreation and related spending generated $3.5 billion for the state’s economy and supported almost 40,000 jobs, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
My commitment to protecting and preserving not only Arkansas’s outdoor spaces and activities, but all of America’s beautiful landscape, is due in no small part to the close proximity of these opportunities right outside our doors. In the 118th Congress, I’m honored to have been named co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC). The CSC is a bipartisan, bicameral, caucus that champions efforts on behalf of America’s 55 million sportsmen and women while promoting fish and wildlife conservation, sporting access and opportunities, and working to combat efforts to limit our time-honored traditions of hunting, fishing, trapping and recreational shooting.
We are particularly proud of the world-class duck hunting that attracts sportsmen and women from around the globe. As one of Arkansans’ favorite pastimes, I am always looking for ways to ensure the processes to enjoy the duck hunting season works efficiently to provide more opportunities to enjoy it with fewer headaches.
That’s why I partnered with a bipartisan group of senators to introduce the Duck Stamp Modernization Act of 2023. This legislation makes the Federal Duck Stamp more accessible, decreases barriers to compliance and increases revenue for conservation by authorizing an electronic stamp for use through the entirety of a waterfowl hunting season.
Allowing hunters immediate access to an electronic duck stamp via their smart phone to meet the requirement that they purchase a Federal Duck Stamp and carry it while in the field makes perfect sense. The Duck Stamp Modernization Act of 2023 builds off a successful pilot program validating E-Stamps for 45 days and extends use for the entire waterfowl season. Arkansas and 27 other states currently participate in the pilot program.
This new bill is yet another effort in championing increased conservation efforts and access to our state’s natural resources.
In 2020, I approved an effort to improve federal conservation programs with the enactment of America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act – a bipartisan conservation law to better implement collaborative strategies to protect and restore wetland habitat by reauthorizing critical programs that have a track record of success like the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.
Additionally, I also voted for the Great American Outdoors Act, historic legislation to support investment in the conservation and preservation of public lands. As a member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, which invests federal funds generated by the Duck Stamp in wetland preservation, I am proud to support initiatives that will protect these habitats.
Arkansas is blessed with a wonderful landscape and incredible wildlife that people from across the country come to our state to enjoy. Duck hunting and other outdoor activities are deeply engrained in our identity, and I’m committed to advocating for and promoting commonsense policies that only continue to increase accessibility to these time-honored traditions for years to come.