Public lands are the fabric that binds America together, part of our shared national heritage. Hunters and anglers understand this fact better than most, as our federally owned lands and waters, including national forests, wilderness areas, wildlife refuges and other public places, provide irreplaceable opportunities for hunting and fishing, as well as innumerable other outdoor activities.
Consequently, American sportsmen were dismayed by the U.S. Senate’s recent vote (51-49) in favor of an amendment that would help states take possession of our federal public lands. This is part of an organized movement to sell off and limit access to our public lands and waters. As users – and owners – of these lands, we must join together and fight back against this terrible idea.
Thankfully, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado put politics aside and did what was best for American sportsmen by voting against the amendment to sell off our public lands.
Please join Backcountry Hunters & Anglers in thanking Sen. Gardner for standing up for the public hunting and fishing access we depend on by actively opposing congressional efforts to sell your public lands.
Help us speak-up for the public lands and waters you depend on by joining BHA today!
TO: Colorado Parks and Wildlife
RE: Comments on CPW Strategic Plan
Please consider the following comments on behalf of the Colorado Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers in regards to the CPW Strategic Plan and process.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is a grassroots sportsmen conservation organization dedicated to serving as a voice for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife. We support wildlife and land management plans that are scientifically-based and which balance social demands with biological needs. Accordingly, we felt compelled to comment on the current effort to draft a Strategic Plan for CPW for the next 10- 20 years.
The following article originally appeared in the Mountain Mail.
Journal entry from Browns Canyon on November 29, 2014.
“I’ve backpacked a few miles southeast of Ruby Mountain on the Turret Trail, trying to get to a spot flat enough to nail down my tiny shelter and gather firewood before I get caught in the dark. Getting caught out in the dark in these dry washes and rugged hills doesn’t pose much of a problem though, because there’s a half moon tonight. It’s late November, and there’s a chinook wind coming in. It won’t even freeze tonight at 8,000 feet above sea level…one of the advantages of a warm wind blowing downslope, and the fact that I’m visiting some unique low-elevation wilderness in Colorado. I come here from time to time to muscle my way into the backcountry, clear my head, and listen to the wind blow through the pinions. This isn’t the first time I’ve spent time in Browns Canyon, and it certainly won’t be the last.”
In Colorado and much of the west, it has gotten harder to simply move across the parts of the landscape that were special when some of us were growing up here. Many things conspire to take away access even as we try and maintain some of it for our future generations. Currently, there is an insidious but relentless effort to transfer federal public lands to the states. This is a bad idea. It will ultimately impact those who like the freedom of being able to don a pack or saddle a horse or ride a bike and experience beautiful country that is largely undeveloped. Federal land ownership helps to ensure that we will continue to have such access. State lands do provide some important public access and school revenue but 80% are privately leased and have limited access.
October 10, 2014
Montrose County Commissioners,
On behalf of the membership of Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and the twenty-four undersigned Montrose County sportsmen, we urge you to reconsider the resolution that the commission unanimously approved in July to transfer federal public lands to the State.
While we acknowledge the fact that federal land management is anything but perfect, that is no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water. We are committed to help work towards solutions rather than attacking a resource and opportunity so near and dear to the hearts and minds of both Coloradan and non-resident sportsmen alike.
We cannot stress enough the importance of quality public access to federal public lands. According to the Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation upwards of 90 percent of Coloradan sportsmen have hunted public lands in the past ten years. National polls from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife back this stat up, showing that the number one reason that hunters give-up their tradition is due to a lack of quality public hunting access. In addition, the most recent survey by Colorado Parks & Wildlife found that Montrose benefits enormously from excellent publicly-accessible outdoor recreation opportunities which support jobs in the county and generate $12,021,000 in economic output annually – a figure that’s much higher than most other Colorado Counties. Coloradan residents understand both the economic and quality-of-life values that our public lands provide. That’s why when polled, 66% of Colorado residents opposed the transfer of federal lands to the state, while only 26% supported it.