boone and crockett club position statement

S.901 - Making Public Lands Public Access Act

Updated September 27, 2011

 

Situational Overview

Federal public lands are an important destination for many Americans, including hunters and anglers. Nearly half of all hunters conduct a portion of their hunting activity on these lands. However, numerous reports verify access to federal land is problematic in a number of areas. In fact, a 2004 report to the House Appropriations Committee concluded that more than 35 million acres of BLM and U.S. Forest Service land provide inadequate access. Lack of access is cited as a primary reason that hunters and anglers stop participating in these traditional sports.

The Making Public Lands Public Access Act would require the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to direct 1.5% or $10 million annually (whichever is greater) of the total Land and Water Conservation Fund budgets for projects that secure recreational public access to existing federal lands through easements, rights-of-way, or fee title acquisitions from willing sellers. Priority would be given to projects enhancing access to federal land that is closed or significantly restricted.

Position

The Boone and Crockett Club supports passage of the Making Public Lands Public Access Act, which will improve access to hundreds of thousands of acres of federal land annually for hunting, fishing, and other recreational purposes. Consistent with its position on this issue, the Club has signed on to the American Wildlife Conservation Partners’ letter to Senate leaders (following).

Click here for more about S. 901 Making Public Lands Public Act

Prior to the Act being introduced in the U.S. Senate, the Club signed on to letters supporting this initiative written by the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council to Ken Salazar, U.S. Department of the Interior , and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation to former speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (following).

Wildlife Hunting & Heritage Conservation Council letter to Ken Salazar dated November 1, 2010;
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation letter to Rep. Pelosi and Boehner dated July 27, 2010.

Dear Senator:

The undersigned non-governmental organizations, representing millions of members across the United States, ask for your help to open and improve access to existing federal public lands for hunting, fishing, and other recreational purposes.

We urge you to support the Making Public Lands Public Act (S. xxx), introduced by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus leaders, Senator Tester and Senator Risch, which would require the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to direct 1.5% or $10 million annually – whichever is greater – of the total Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) budgets -- for projects that secure recreational public access to existing federal lands through easements, rights-of-way, or fee title acquisitions from willing sellers. This will improve sportsmen’s access to hundreds of thousands of acres of federal land annually.
These LWCF funds are needed to acquire small parcels, easements or rights of way that open access to inaccessible or significantly restricted federal lands. The Making Public Lands Public Act fully compliments the first purpose of the LWCF Act which is “to assist in preserving, developing and assuring accessibility to outdoor recreation resources.”

For the millions of American hunters, anglers, and other outdoor recreationists, federal public lands are an increasingly important destination. Nearly half of all hunters conduct a portion of their hunting activity on these lands. Lack of access is cited as a primary reason that hunters and anglers stop participating in these traditional activities. Numerous reports verify that access to Federal land is problematic in many places. In fact, a 2004 report to the House Appropriations Committee concluded that more than 35 million acres of land administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service have inadequate access.

Allowing federal agencies to identify and prioritize smaller parcels on the boundaries of federal lands that provide public access for hunting and other nature-based recreation is common sense policy. Directing a modest portion of LWCF funds to secure those parcels would help the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior maximize the value of their existing federal land holdings.

We applaud your efforts to improve outdoor recreation opportunities on our nation’s federal lands and ask for your support for the Making Public Lands Public Act. Please contact Stephenne Harding in Senator Tester’s office (Stephenne_Harding@tester.senate.gov) or Darren Parker in Senator Risch’s office (Darren_Parker@Risch.senate.gov ), to become a sponsor of this legislation or if you have any questions.

Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council

CHAIRMAN
John Tomke
Ducks Unlimited
VICE CHAIRMAN
Christine Thomas
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
MEMBERS
M. David Allen
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Jeffrey S. Crane
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Robert R. Fithian
Alaska Professional Hunters Association, Inc.
John E. Frampton
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Thomas Franklin
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Ron Heward
Heward 7E Ranch
Robert Manes
The Nature Conservancy
Baaswewe Frederick D. Maulson
Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission
Tommy Millner
Cabela’s
Robert Model
Boone and Crockett Club
Joanna Prukop
Freedom to Roam
Stephen L. Sanetti
National Shooting Sports Foundation
Larry Schweiger
National Wildlife Federation
George C. Thornton
National Wild Turkey Federation
Howard K. Vincent
Pheasants Forever
Steve Williams
Wildlife Management Institute
EX OFFICIO REPRESENTATION
Bureau of Land Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Farm Service Agency
U.S. Forest Service
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Council Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of Program & Partnership Support
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS EA-3103
Arlington, VA 22203
P 703 358-2639
F 703 358-2548          

 

November 1, 2010

The Honorable Ken Salazar, Secretary
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20240

Dear Secretary Salazar,

I am pleased to write to you on behalf of the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council. During its inaugural meeting in Washington, D.C. (October 4th and 5th, 2010), the Council voted unanimously in support of two critical conservation programs, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (used by the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture) and the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program (administered by the Department of the Interior).

Not only does the Council strongly support full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), we also recommend a “making public lands public” initiative that would direct 1.5% or $10 million – whichever is greater – of the total LWCF funds annually for fee, seasonal or permanent easements, or rights of way acquisition on willing sellers’ property that will significantly expand access to existing public lands for hunting, fishing and other recreational activities.

Numerous reports indicate that access to pre-existing federal lands is problematic in many places. For example, a 2004 report to the House Appropriations Committee concluded that more than 35 million acres of Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands have inadequate access. Using input from fish and wildlife agencies, landowners and others, federal agencies can identify public access point needs as part of developing their LWCF priorities. Supported by a dedicated pool of LWCF funding, agencies can then secure these critical public access points. The nation’s sportsmen and women are heavily dependent on public lands for abundant fish and wildlife, habitat and access for outdoor recreation. For millions of American hunters, federal public lands are an increasingly important destination. Nearly half of all hunters conduct a portion of their hunting activity on public lands. LWCF has helped save some of America’s richest wildlife areas and most popular nature-based recreation destinations from development and closure. The conservation easement features of LWCF have helped many ranching and farming families stay on their lands and continue their traditional way of life, a way of life that includes providing public access for hunting while conserving healthy landscapes.

Allowing federal agencies to identify and prioritize smaller parcels on the edges of federal land that provide public access for hunting and other nature-based recreation is common sense. Directing a modest portion of LWCF funds to secure those parcels would help the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture maximize the value of their existing federal land holdings.

The Council also recommends that there be no diminution in funding for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Program, even during these fiscally-challenging times. Our support for this program is rooted in our charge to help secure funding to conserve our nation’s fish and wildlife, and helps implement Final Recommendations #1 and #8 of the Recreational Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Plan.

The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program is the principal source of funding for implementing and revising State Wildlife Action Plans. Reduced funding for this program will increase the likelihood that more species will require federal endangered species listing in the future, and would curtail important conservation priorities identified in the plans. This relatively modest federal investment has already made a positive impact and exemplifies strong and effective partnerships between state, federal and private conservation groups.

In 2001, Congress created the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program to support state efforts to conserve at-risk fish and wildlife. Each state and territory completed a comprehensive wildlife conservation strategy – a State Wildlife Action Plan – to be eligible for these funds. The plans used best available science to identify more than 12,000 species considered at risk, their key habitats, threats to those species and associated conservation actions, monitoring and research. The plans provide a foundation for landscape-level conservation and can inform the development of climate change adaptation strategies.

We understand the magnitude of the current fiscal situation and know that difficult budget decisions will need to be made in the coming months. However, we feel support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program should be very high on the list of administration priorities for fish and wildlife conservation. This letter has also been submitted to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Sincerely,

John Tomke
Chair

Cc: Will Shafroth (DOI)
Rowan Gould (USFWS)
Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Members

Archery Trade Association * Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies * Bear Trust International * Boone and Crockett Club * Bowhunting Preservation Alliance * Buckmasters American Deer Foundation * Campfire Club of America * Catch-A-Dream Foundation * Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation * Conservation Force * Dallas Safari Club * Delta Waterfowl Foundation * Houston Safari Club * International Hunter Education Association * Izaak Walton League of America * Masters of Foxhounds Association of America * Mule Deer Foundation * National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses * National Rifle Association * National Shooting Sports Foundation * National Trappers Association * National Wild Turkey Federation * North American Bear Foundation * North American Grouse Partnership * Pheasants Forever * Pope and Young Club * Public Lands Foundation * Quail Forever * Quail Unlimited * Quality Deer Management Association * Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation * Ruffed Grouse Society * Safari Club International * Sand County Foundation * Shikar Safari Club * Texas Wildlife Association * The Wildlife Society * Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership * U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance * Whitetails Unlimited * Wild Sheep Foundation * Wildlife Forever * Wildlife Habitat Council * Wildlife Management Institute*

July 29, 2010

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Boehner

The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) comprising the American Wildlife Conservation
Partners (AWCP), with millions of members across the United States, appreciate your continued commitment to ensuring access to public lands for recreational purposes, including hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting.

A number of the members of AWCP are working to re-focus a very small portion of LWCF on enhancing access to existing public lands, specifically for small parcels, easements or rights of way that open access to Federal land that is inaccessible or significantly restricted. That is why we support a new initiative, “Making Public Lands Public”(attached brochure).

We are fully supportive of Representative Kind’s efforts to offer an amendment to the CLEAR Act (H.R. 3534) that would direct that not less than 1.5 percent of the annual authorized funding amount is made available each year for projects that secure recreational public access to existing Federal public land for hunting, fishing, and other recreational purposes through easements, rights-of-way, or fee title acquisitions only from willing sellers. This will improve hunting, fishing, and other public access to hundreds of thousands of acres of Federal land annually. In addition, such direction would square precisely with the first purpose of the LWCF Act, which is “to assist in preserving, developing and assuring accessibility to outdoor recreation resources”.

For the 32 million American hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters, federal public lands are an increasingly important destination. Nearly half of all hunters, for example, conduct a portion of their hunting activity on these lands. In addition, lack of access is cited as a primary reason that hunters, anglers, and target shooters stop participating in these traditional sports. However, numerous reports verify that access to Federal land is problematic in many places.
In fact, a 2004 report to the House Appropriations Committee concluded that more than 35 million acres of BLM and USFS land have inadequate access.

We applaud your constant efforts to improve outdoor recreation opportunities on our nation’s public lands. We look forward to working with you on the legislative opportunities for Making Public Lands Public and please feel contact Jeff Crane, President of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, (202-543-6850; jeff@sportsmenslink.org) if you have any questions


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