The Mule Deer Foundation applauded Representative Steve Daines’ (R-MT) introduction of legislation that would help sportsmen to access landlocked federal lands. The Making Public Lands Public Act dedicates a small percentage of funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to projects that create hunting and fishing opportunities on large tracts of existing federal property that are currently difficult or impossible to access.This approach has been a top priority for MDF and many other sportsmen’s groups including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Safari Club International, Boone and Crockett Club and National Wild Turkey Federation.
“As an avid hunter and outdoorsman, Representative Daines knows how important access is to sportsmen. Montana is like many western states where there are large tracts of public lands that are now blocked by private lands and too many hunters are finding closed gates cutting off access to areas where they used to hunt,” commented Miles Moretti, President of the Mule Deer Foundation.
The vision behind Making Public Lands Public came as a response to hunter concerns that private lands were now closing off access to areas where they had traditionally hunted. The Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal program that directs revenues from offshore oil development towards land conservation has effectively protected many important public lands. The fund is supposed to receive $900 million each year but typically receives only a small percentage of that amount. As a result, the relatively small projects that would help open access to large blocks of federal lands often cannot compete for the limited funds. By designating 1.5 percent or $10 million of LWCF funds to these access projects, Daines’ bill will make sure that these projects can be completed.
“The Making Public Lands Public bill would direct funds to make sure that we can find a way to work with willing seller landowners to allow access into the public lands that we all own,” Moretti concluded.
Logo courtesy Mule Deer Foundation