June 22, 2017

Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Steve Pearce Introduces Bill to Increase Public Lands Access

On June 20, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Congressman Steve Pearce (NM) introduced the Make Public Lands Public Act, which would amend the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to increase public access to federal lands by funding maintenance and restoration of roads and trails.

“In New Mexico and across the west, private, state, and federal lands are intermingled, resulting in a checkerboard issue that diminishes access to public lands for hunting, fishing, and shooting sports,” stated Rep. Pearce. “These lands belong to the people, and we must ensure that sportsmen and women have the ability to participate in outdoor recreation as their parents and grandparents did before them. This bill will not only bring greater recreational enjoyment and economic growth to New Mexico, but will increase conservation efforts that are funded by these activities.”

Specifically, this bill designates 1.5 percent or at least $10 million of the LWCF towards projects that enhance public access to federal lands. 

“Research tells us that a lack of access to public land is one of the primary barriers to participation in hunting. Federal lands that are technically ‘open’ but inaccessible to the public, often due to the fact that the Federal lands are ‘landlocked’ by private property, contribute to this problem. We applaud Congressman Pearce for his efforts to address this issue by securing public hunting, fishing and recreational shooting access for current and future generations, and thereby truly ‘Making Public Lands Public,’” stated Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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