Why Midwesterners Should Participate in National Forest Week

Contact: Bob Matthews, Senior Coordinator Upper Midwestern States

  • National Forest Week begins July 11, 2022, and serves to remind sportsmen and women throughout the Midwest of the invaluable benefits of our nation’s National Forests and Grasslands.
  • Officially launched by the National Forest Foundation, a non-profit partner of the United States Forest Service, the week occurs during the second full week of July each year.
  • There are more than 193 million acres of National Forest and almost 4 million acres of National Grassland across the nation, with more than 18.8 million acres across the Midwest.
  • Through the “Making Public Lands Public” Access Initiative, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has led the fight to ensure that sportsmen and women can access and enjoy public lands, including National Forests.

Why It Matters: Access to public land is coveted by American hunters and anglers. Under the Public Trust Doctrine, federal and state governments alike hold natural resources, such as fish and wildlife, in trust for the use and enjoyment of the public, and public lands provide great opportunities to participate in our time-honored outdoor traditions. Most Midwestern states provide a constitutional right to hunt and fish, and Midwesterners have exercised that right within National Forests and Grasslands for more than a century. Sportsmen and women should take this week to reflect on the resources and opportunities that these forests have to offer.

National Forests and Grasslands provide sportsmen and women with miles of abundant rivers and lakes to fish, as well as vast, pristine landscapes on which we can hunt, trap, or recreationally shoot. Since 1905, when legendary sportsman and conservationist Theodore Roosevelt turned federal forestry management duties over to the Department of Agriculture by creating the United States Forest Service (USFS), Americans have enjoyed the many resources and opportunities that National Forests have to offer. Later, in the 1930’s, National Grasslands, located primarily across the Great Plains, were added to USFS’s purview. Through the use of active forest management, forests are being managed for multiple uses, including hunting, which separates National Forests from lands within the National Park System.

Sportsmen and women are encouraged to celebrate National Forest Week while recognizing that continued conservation of National Forests, Grasslands, and other public lands requires steadfast legislative efforts. In recent years, successfully enacted legislation sponsored or co-sponsored by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus members has secured funding to ensure that public land is accessible for continued use and enjoyment by hunters, anglers, trappers, and recreational shooters. Examples of such legislation include the recently enacted MAPLand Act and the Great American Outdoors Act.

To protect these sacred American traditions, we must continue to enjoy them. The 4th annual National Forest Week should encourage Midwesterners to exercise their right to enter and use the millions of acres of public land that this great region has to offer. So next week, head to your nearest National Forest to cast a line, practice your aim, or scout your favorite critter for the fall season, and appreciate all that our public land has to offer.

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