What’s the Point of Public Land without Public Access?

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.

Lack of public land access has been listed as the number one reason why hunters and anglers give up their pursuits. The HUNT Act looks to “unlock” millions of acres of public land for recreational use.

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.

You can get more details on The HUNT Act on Senator Heinrich’s website, and read the testimony of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers right here.

Do you support The HUNT Act? I’d like to hear your arguments for or against it – so comment below and get the dialogue rolling!

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7 Responses to “What’s the Point of Public Land without Public Access?”

  1. Huntduna

    Nice article. We payed for this land, so we should be able to use it. I’m really surprised about how much public land isn’t excitable and how this hasn’t been addresed addressed in the past. I’m really glad something is being done about it for hunters, campers and adventure seekers alike.

    • Al Buczkowski

      Thanks for reading – be sure to spread the word on this issue! As you know, public land is getting harder and harder to come by for our country’s sportsmen and women.

  2. james windom

    good for them if you cant use it it is totally worthless

  3. Guy Thomas

    All publicly constructed and maintained roads must be opened to all users or closed to ALL USE immediately. It defies logic for all taxpayers to construct and maintain roads so that a few ranchers or farmers can control who may travel on them. It is even more foul to consider that veterans can not use the roads and land that they have paid for with money and blood.


    I our tax money paid for this land the public should have A right to use the land too or fish ,with restricked camping.

  5. Adam Hill

    I believe this is sorely needed but I have some concerns for the property rights of persons living on or near these “public lands”. They should be respected and in the field of legal criminals I am not at all sure we can look to the courts to ensure justice. The legal establishment interpet that as “Just-Us” and all we can get away with since we control the courts and the public interests and private ownership interests come some where out behind. Vice President Biden wholesale attempted robbery of established private property grazing and water rights that date back before Nevada was a state is an example of the abuse influential people are wielding against the public today and without any sense of moral justice. Federal agencies have already proven they are not respectful of private property rights. For those who think that “Our tax money paid for those property” need to check the title and track it (chain of title) to find out the truth. It is far from simple and one size does not fit all. Had the land in Nevada been public land it would now be gone with a handsome payoff to a few politicians. Don’t set up an enabling situation so federal land can be established at the governments (tax payers) expense only to be stolen and sold to others. Foreigners, particularly the Chinese, are now the biggest purchasers of government resources. The stage has been set to pledge our national assets as security for foreign debts as a tool for transferring ownership of federal real estate to foreign bankers. Don’t help them. Some say hang them.


    This is a very important question. Citizens that comply, qualify, and Pay Taxes, Should be Allowed Access!