A pack string loaded with elk antlers in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana or the Gila in New Mexico. A bighorn ram in the Absaroka of Wyoming. Reeling in pike in the quiet lakes of the Boundary Waters of Minnesota.
Wilderness areas provide, bar none, some of greatest, most adventuresome hunting and fishing in North America. Today we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act. Hunters and anglers were a major force behind the law then, and are a major force for backcountry conservation today.
Not every place can be, or should be, wilderness. By some estimates, only 4 percent of the Lower 48 still have "wilderness quality" characteristics. That may be your backyard, or it may be your once-in-a-lifetime dream-come-true.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers understands the value of well reasoned travel management planning that protects the fish and wildlife habitat that our sporting traditions depend on. National legislation introduced by Representative Walden (R-OR) has the potential of stripping the many habitat and sporting values that travel management protects. The following video highlights why travel management is important:
This week public land sportsmen and Senator, Martin Heinrich (D-NM), reintroduced legislation called the HUNT Act, which would dedicate a portion of Land & Water Conservation Funding to unlocking landlocked public land and provide hunting and fishing access to the lands we all own, but cannot use.
The following testimony in support of this legislation was submitted on behalf of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Trout Unlimited, The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Bull Moose Sportsmen's Alliance and the National Wildlife Federation.
Each year, America’s 40 million hunters and anglers contribute $200 billion to the national economy, and support millions of American jobs. Hunting and fishing aren’t mere pastimes, they are lifestyles; lifestyles that depend fundamentally on access to quality fish and wildlife habitat. For many hunters, including 72% of all hunters in the Mountain West and Pacific states, access means public lands. Without reliable access to quality habitat, sportsmen reduce their days afield and reduce their economic impact. For small towns across the country, fewer sportsmen mean fewer customers, fewer jobs, and a lower quality of life. Of course, it is no mystery why sportsmen and women stay home: the single most prevalent reason hunters and anglers stop hunting and fishing is lack of access.
Last week, sportsmen gathered in Washington DC with Western elected officials to discuss the importance of the Land & Water Conservation Fund for public land conservation, hunting and fishing access and the outdoor economy. The following is a short video of highlights from this event.
The radical cry to sell our public lands continues to echo across the nation. The House of Representatives recently proposed a budget (Page 33) that calls for the sale of public landsand Senator Cruz (TX) offered an amendment to the Sportsmen's Package recently that would have called for the sale of public lands in any state with over 50% public ownership. Some state political parties are making this part of their party. BHA will not stand idly by while these attacks on our heritage continue to mount. We will keep public lands in public hands.
What can you do?
What else can you do?
Together we will insure that the backcountry legacy gifted to us will be passed down for generations to come.
Onward and Upward,
Land Tawney, Executive Director