All across America you’ll find millions of acres of publicly-owned wilderness providing a bounty of trophy game, fishing and beautiful vistas just waiting to be enjoyed to the fullest…
…if only you could get to them.
Because those areas are “landlocked” within private land, it’s ACCESS DENIED for you, my nature-loving friend. With no public roadways or trails leading into them, legal entry to these areas is an impossibility.
But, there is a movement afoot to address the issue.
Late last month, Senator (and sportsman) Martin Heinrich of New Mexico reintroduced The Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures (HUNT) Act in a hearing of the Public Lands, Forest and Mining Subcommittee. First introduced last September, it looks to grant hunters, anglers and outdoors enthusiasts entry to public wilderness by requiring federal land management agencies to identify public lands that lack public access routes and develop a plan to provide access routes to those lands that have significant potential for recreational use.
“Sportsmen say their number one concern is the lack of access to our public lands across the West. The HUNT Act will open up these areas to hunting and fishing and grow our thriving outdoor recreation economy in the process. Hunting and fishing are a way of life for millions of Americans. As an avid hunter, I remain deeply committed to preserving our outdoor heritage for my children, and for future generations.”
-U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico)
According to a statement released by Heinrich’s office, The HUNT Act would direct federal management agencies to:
- Prepare and annually report a list of public lands that have no or limited public access.
- Identify which of these lands would have a significant potential for hunting, fishing, and other recreational uses if the public could gain access.
- Explain what would be necessary to provide access to those lands.
- Direct 1.5 percent in funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund each year to purchase easements and rights of way from willing owners.
- Maintain a list of roads that serve as primary access routes to public lands to help inform state and county decisions about road maintenance and closures.
Something worth repeating: You’ll notice the proposed legislation does not call for additional funds but a redirection of current Land and Water Conservation Fund money, in the amount of 1.5% (bullet point number 4).
Here’s Senator Heinrich’s subcommittee testimony:
With backing by prominent groups such as Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Trout Unlimited, The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Parntership, Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance and the National Wildlife Federation, The HUNT Act seems to be gaining some sizable momentum.