WASHINGTON – A bill that would inhibit the strategic acquisition of public lands and waters for access, recreation and fish and wildlife habitat is drawing strong criticism from Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. H.R. 2167, introduced last week by Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia, would legislate a “no net increase” in the size of the public estate, stipulating that for every acre acquired by the federal government, an equal amount must be sold or divested to state or private interests.
The “Acre In, Acre Out Act” would unnecessarily deprive entities such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service of a critical tool in their efforts to increase public access opportunities and address the needs of specific game and fish populations, said BHA President and CEO Land Tawney.
“American citizens must remain committed to providing our land management agencies the tools they need to successfully conserve key lands and waters and enhance public access to the outdoors,” said Tawney, “and the ability to strategically acquire important acreages is central to achieving this goal.
“Under Congressman Griffith’s legislation, we the American public land owners would be forced to sell off our lands – potentially at a fraction of their value – in order to enable land managers to do their jobs,” Tawney continued. “This type of contemptible horse trading deserves to be swiftly and summarily rejected. Hunters and anglers must unite in urging our elected officials to stand strong in opposing Mr. Griffith’s bill, just as previous Congresses have done.”
This marks the third time Rep. Griffith has introduced the legislation, which so far has failed to advance.