Sportsmen’s groups call on Congress to reject sales or transfer of public land

Written by Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

More than 100 hunting, fishing, and conservation organizations, including the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Trout Unlimited, Dallas Safari Club, Pope & Young Club, the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, and more than 80 state-based groups, have released a letter to local and national decision-makers opposing the sale or transfer of federally-managed public lands.

Recipients include House members meeting tomorrow to discuss federal land acquisition, and its impacts on communities and the environment, and Senators who recently passed a budget resolution that could encourage the sale or transfer of public lands.

“We’re calling on lawmakers to end this conversation now,” said Whit Fosburgh, TRCP’s president and CEO. “Nothing galvanizes sportsmen like the loss of access for hunting and fishing, and continuing to indulge this controversial idea is keeping us from the real task of managing our public lands.”

America’s 640 million acres of federal public lands — including our national forests and Bureau of Land Management lands — provide hunting and fishing opportunities to millions of sportsmen and women. Since late last year, efforts to wrest public lands from the federal government and put them under state ownership have been matched by the unanimous outcry of sportsmen across the country. “Decision-makers need to know what they are stepping into,” said Joel Webster, director of western public lands for the TRCP. “Over 72 percent of western hunters depend on public lands for access, and sportsmen are not going to stand idly by as they’re sold away.”

The letter states:

April 14, 2015

Dear State and National Decision Makers:

America is known for its wide open spaces, seemingly endless mountain ranges, famous rivers and abundant fish and wildlife. Fundamental to this celebrated legacy is our national system of public lands, which is available to all Americans for hunting, fishing, camping and other forms of recreation. As sportsmen-based organizations, we are alarmed that some decision makers are promoting the idea that federal public lands should be transferred to individual states or sold to private interests.

We write to you today to strongly oppose this misguided approach. America’s public lands — managed by agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management — provide important fish and wildlife habitat and public access for hunting and fishing. Millions of American sportsmen use these lands each year to spend time with their families, challenge themselves physically and put food on their tables. Public lands and the activities they support benefit local businesses and contribute to America’s $646 billion annual outdoor recreation economy.

Sportsmen know firsthand that criticizing the management of federal public lands is easy, but the transfer of these lands to individual states is not a legitimate option for addressing management challenges. States are simply not equipped to support the enormous costs associated with fighting wildfires, maintaining roads and trails, treating noxious weeds and conducting habitat restoration.

The likely result of state ownership would be the sale of public lands to private interests, where millions of acres would be closed to public access and an American birthright would be lost.

We ask that you take steps to voice your support for America’s public lands legacy and reject efforts to dispose of, sell or transfer federal public lands.


Regional and National Organizations