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A Long Future for Federal Public Lands
Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"Federal public lands were among the first accomplishments of the Boone and Crockett Club and remain a priority for us today" said Club President Morrie Stevens.  We need all available tools at our disposal to be sure Federal lands are secure, well cared for, and accessible for multiple uses."

B&C Policy Chairman Robert Model stated "The idea of wholesale land transfer is driven by the fact that they are being inadequately cared for due to reduced funding, litigation, and over-complicated regulations. Some of these problems are also blocking access to federal lands for both jobs and recreation."

 Club officials note that no drastic changes of any kind can occur without an act of Congress.  At the same time, the most useful improvements also require an act of Congress.  Until specific proposals are written, the Club will continue working productively with sportsmen, the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, and others toward the best future for federal public lands.

The Boone and Crockett Club is firmly committed to the federal public land system. The future of these lands depends on their accessibility for multiple uses and the quality of their management.

The Club is forever committed to the best use and care of these remarkable conservation treasures, which are among its most important legacies, beginning with actions of the Club's founders and leaders in the early conservation movement to establish Yellowstone National Park and the Timberland Reserves in the late 19th Century--the cornerstones of the National Park System and the National Forest System.

Recent efforts to transfer federal trust lands to states or otherwise buy or sell these lands should be judged by the particular ideas that improve the use and care of these lands and others that do not. Federal lands need improvements as they are being inadequately cared for due to reduced funding, litigation, and over-complicated regulations. Some of these problems are also blocking access to federal lands for both jobs and recreation. These problems are not simple: they have been described as the legendary Gordian knot, showing no loose ends at which to begin releasing it. But there is a solution and it must be found by a commitment to the guidance of science and the decisions of public policy, within the ethos of American conservation.

Federal lands are the foundation of the most successful conservation system in the world, established by our founder, Theodore Roosevelt. The federal estate is also a hugely valuable asset that needs stewardship both inside and also along its boundaries. This means policy must allow for land swaps and even sales of parcels according to their conservation values. These options are necessary for better policy for care and access for lands that remain in the public trust. It also means that federal agencies must have the option to engage states, tribes, local governments, and private entities in work best suited for delegation by contract or other binding agreement. These remedies can be begun in small steps, to build up to a fundamental rewriting of decades of conflicting federal law governing public lands, and to reestablish a clear conservation mission for federal agencies.

The Boone and Crockett Club urges all hunters and other conservationists to support improved federal land management policies and actions. We are focused on congressional action to restore forest and rangeland wildlife habitat and shared uses, enactment by Congress and the President of better access to public lands through the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2015, and development by sportsmen-conservationists of an improved Land and Water Conservation Fund. Land transfers can be part of these improvements. We will take the course that leads to better stewardship and a longer legacy for conservation.

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