Millions of acres of public land inaccessible

If you hunt or fish much in the west, it's likely you're well versed in some of the eccentricities associated with access to public lands.

Those eccentricities were further illustrated today with a report from the Center for Western Priorities which found more than four million acres of public land were inaccessible due to land ownership patterns, absent entry points and a failure to remove entry barriers.

At the top of the list was Montana with almost two million acres of inaccessible public land. 

"We have extraordinary public lands that the public can't even set foot on, let alone use for hunting, fishing, or camping, the activities that are synonymous with our beloved public lands," said Center for Western Priorities' Trevor Kincaid. "Keeping people locked out of the land they own is like letting a '57 Corvette rust in your backyard. Just a waste."

Some legislators are taking an interest in the issue such as New Mexico's Martin Heinrich who is well known for his personal use of public lands for hunting and fishing. Heinrich recently introduced a bill that would look at that use.

The "Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures Act," or HUNT Act (S. 1554) would require federal agencies to identify chunks of land larger than 640 acres that allow hunting, fishing or other recreational activities but lack publc access reported E&E News. Once catalogued, agencies would be required to identify access routes through road and trail easments, boat ramps, and rights of way purchases from willing sellers. 

"This is not an insurmountable access obstacle," said CWP's Policy Director Greg Zimmerman. "People are clamoring for outdoor playgrounds to explore and enjoy, the government shutdown showed us that, so we would be smart to heed that call and expand the places the public can enjoy."


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