On September 20, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will acquire 600 acres of land adjacent to the Santa Teresa Wilderness in Arizona to increase public access to public lands.
Specifically, this acquisition will increase public access opportunities for sportsmen and women who rely on public lands to participate in America’s time-honored outdoor traditions. The 600-acre ET Ranch was purchased for $480,000 under the Sportsman’s and Recreational Access component of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). LWCF funds are collected through earnings generated from offshore oil and gas leases to enhance land and water conservation as well as outdoor recreation for all Americans. This strategic acquisition demonstrates a successful partnership among private, state and federal organizations.
The acquisition of the 600 acres will open up 5,800 acres in the BLM wilderness area, and an additional 26,800 acres in the Coronado National Forest to public hunting opportunities. The BLM was able to facilitate this project with help from the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), the National Wild Turkey Federation, the South Eastern Arizona Sportsman Club, and the Trust for Public Lands (TPL).
The Sportsman’s and Recreational Access component of LWCF, also known as MPLP, allows the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture to use a portion of LWCF funds to increase public access opportunities and maintain public lands for hunting, fishing, or recreational shooting. Related, on September 21, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President Jeff Crane sent a letter to Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Congressman Steve Pearce encouraging the inclusion of H.R. 2590, the Making Public Lands Public Act (MPLP) in the SHARE Act (H.R. 3668) when it is considered on the House floor for a vote. H.R. 2590 directs the Departments of Interior and Agriculture to use 3 percent or at least $20 million of LWCF funds for enhancing public access to public lands.
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?