Urge Congress to Support New Legislation that Opens More Federal Lands to Recreational Fishing
Increased development and regulations make access more critical than ever.
Lack of access is the primary reason that keeps anglers from enjoying a day on the water. With expanding land development and growing regulations restricting angler access, federally owned lands are more important than ever for recreational fishing opportunity. However, a recent Congressional report concluded that more than 35 million acres of land owned by two federal land management agencies – the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service – have inadequate access for sportsmen and women.
The Making Public Lands Public Access Act (H.R. 1997, S. 901), introduced in Congress on May 5, 2011, will increase access to angling, hunting and recreational shooting opportunities on federal lands. The legislation directs that a minimum of $10 million be used to ensure that fishing, hunting and other recreational activities are accessible for these purposes. The funding for access projects such as easements and access roads would come from existing Land and Water Conservation Fund monies that come from offshore oil and gas leases.
This legislation does not seek to increase the amount of land owned by the government, but instead enhances recreational access in existing national parks, forests and other federally owned lands.
The Making Public Lands Public Act was included as one of 19 bills in the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012, introduced by Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.). The MPLP section will address one of the most significant obstacles to sportfishing – lack of access to public lands and waters. This language will increase access to angling, hunting and recreational shooting opportunities on federal lands, by directing 1.5% of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to ensure that fishing, hunting and other recreational activities are accessible. The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 was passed through with a procedural vote that allows the bill to be voted on the Senate floor after the election.