2020 Policy Roundup

Despite unprecedented challenges, 2020 marked Backcountry Hunters & Anglers' busiest and most successful year yet. Across North America, BHA members, staff and chapters continued to champion our issues and secured a number of important wins for our public lands, waters and wildlife. Find out more below.

BHA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and your donation is tax deductible.


  • The Great American Outdoors Act (H.R. 1957) is one of the biggest wins in decades for hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts. An overwhelming number of lawmakers supported the measure with a 73-25 vote in the Senate and a 310-107 vote in the House. The package permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund with 3 percent dedicated to securing hunting and fishing access opportunities on our public lands and waters. It also establishes a five-year National Park and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund dedicated to addressing the maintenance backlogs for our public land management agencies, including the National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Education. Our members and supporters came out in full force, sending over 32,500 emails and making more than 6,000 calls to members of Congress in support of the legislation in the weeks leading up to its passage.

  • Along with our partners at the Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters, we advanced the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Protection Act (H.R. 5598) through the House Natural Resources Committee with BHA President and CEO Land Tawney testifying before Congress. This is the furthest the legislation has made it through Congress. H.R. 5598 would permanently protect 234,328 acres of public lands and waters upstream of the Boundary Waters watershed from sulfide-ore copper mining development.

  • BHA and many partner organizations were successful in advocating for the passage and enactment of the America’s Conservation Enhancement Act (ACE Act, S. 3051), which enhances public access, restores habitat for fish and wildlife and improves opportunities essential for sportsmen and women across the United States. The ACE Act includes the following provisions:

    • Reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act at $60 million until fiscal year 2025. NAWCA created a competitive grant program that has generated more than 2,833 projects and has contributed to conserving approximately 29.8 million acres of wetland habitat in North America.

    • Reauthorization of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Establishment Act at $25 million until fiscal year 2025. NFWF is the nation’s largest conservation grant-maker to conserve fish and wildlife habitat on private and public lands and waters.

    • Reauthorization of the Chesapeake Bay Program until fiscal year 2025. This program is an important conservation and restoration program that safeguards the Chesapeake Bay watershed by leveraging state and local dollars to improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitat for Canada geese, speckled trout and other game species.

    • Reauthorization of the Chesapeake Bay Initiative until fiscal year 2025. The initiative provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to address erosion and nutrient runoff issues from livestock waste and crop production.

    • Establishment of the Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense Act, which enables the Fish and Wildlife Service to assist federal, state and local stakeholders to expand conservation and restoration efforts in the watershed.

    • Addressing chronic wasting disease, a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy prion disease found in cervid populations (i.e. deer, elk and moose), by creating a new CWD task force under the jurisdiction of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to facilitate cross-jurisdictional collaboration and research that will address the spread of the disease.

    • Creation of resources to combat invasive species.

    • Advancement of the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships initiative by encouraging a coalition of outdoor, hunting, angling, industry and other conservation organizations to collaborate and address the loss of fish habitat in critical waterways.

  • Our Armed Forces Initiative program came out of the gates strong advocating for the passage of the Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act, which establishes an interagency task force to considers recommendations, barriers and other opportunities in promoting health and wellness for veterans on our public lands and waters. AVROA passed Congress by voice vote and was enacted into law as part of a larger legislative packaged, the Veterans COMPACT Act (H.R. 8247).

  • The relevant committees in the Senate and the House made it a top priority to move public lands legislation this year. We helped organize hearings and votes and advocated for the advancement of more than 21 measures, including the following:

    • Recovering America’s Wildlife Act as a provision in the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2), which passed the House.
    • Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act as a provision in H.R. 2.
    • Addressing the spread of chronic wasting disease through multiple hearings.
    • America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (S. 2302), which passed through the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by voice vote.
    • Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act as a standalone bill and a provision in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 6395). Both legislative vehicles passed the House.
    • Central Coast Heritage Protection Act as a standalone bill and a provision in H.R. 6395.
    • San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act as a standalone bill and a provision in H.R. 6395.
    • Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act as a standalone bill and a provision in H.R. 6395.
    • Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act as a standalone bill and a provision in H.R. 6395.
    • Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act (S. 1765) in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
    • Ruby Mountains Protection Act (S. 258) through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by voice vote.
    • H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act (S. 3670) in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
    • Oregon Recreation Enhancement Act (S. 1262) through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by voice vote.
    • Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act as a standalone bill and a provision in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 6395).
    • BHA coordinated with the sportsmen and women and environmental organizations to educate lawmakers about the appropriations provision that prohibits funding to be used to list the greater sage grouse on the federal threatened and endangered species list. We were successful in removing the provision in the House fiscal year 2021 funding legislation.

  • BHA was the leading voice denouncing William Perry Pendley’s leadership role at the Bureau of Land Management, urging Department of the Interior Secretary Bernhardt to permanently remove him from the agency. Pendley’s track record supports the transfer of public lands to states and private entities and dismantling government agencies including the BLM. Our strong opposition to Pendley generated over 8,000 letters that were sent to Congress asking lawmakers to request the removal of Pendley and review all actions administered illegally under his authority. The Trump administration has taken an unlawful, anti-public lands approach, insulting the professionals who have dedicated their careers to the stewardship of our public lands and waters.

  • BHA worked with our partners to lobby for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to slow development for Pebble Partnership’s proposed massive gold and copper mining project in Bristol Bay, Alaska, ultimately leading to their decision to deny a critical permit. Our members and supporters also sent more than 18,586 letters to lawmakers and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler urging them to protect Bristol Bay and stop Pebble or any other proposed mining in the future.


State and Provincial


On Nov. 25, 2020, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rejected the controversial Pebble Mine proposal, citing the project’s noncompliance with the Clean Water Act in announcing its decision, following recent concerns about Pebble’s plans to mitigate pollution. Alaska BHA members led our membership in our campaign to protect Bristol Bay, driving 18,000 messages to USACE, the White House and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler.


The Alberta Chapter has launched a campaign in opposition to a proposal to sell off Crown lands, engaging concerned sportsmen and women to write to their local elected representatives, the Alberta premier and Alberta Environment and Parks.


The Arizona Chapter successfully advocated against two bills that would have required state government approval for private land to be transferred to federal management.


The Arkansas Chapter was able to gather over 1,700 signatures on the Keep the Pine Tree Research Station Public initiative. This led to building a strong coalition of politicians and state organizations to present legislation blocking the sale.

British Columbia

The British Columbia Chapter signed on to the Wildlife Coalition Platform, which asks the new B.C. government to introduce legislation to create a Fish, Wildlife and Habitat endowment as well as dedicating all revenues from hunting, angling and trapping license fees to wildlife management.


The Capital Chapter successfully advocated for the passage of Maryland House Bill 173, which enhances Sunday hunting opportunities on private and public land in the state.


The Colorado Chapter helped secure the addition of public access to 200,000 acres of state trust lands that were previously not open to public hunting and angling.

The chapter also was instrumental in lobbying the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to include regulatory provisions that protect riparian areas, wildlife habitat and create opportunities for consideration of migration corridors in state leasing and permitting processes. 


The Georgia chapter was able to gather over 700 signatures on a petition opposing the sale of Bogg's Mountain, which consists of 800-plus acres of national forest land.


The Idaho Chapter advocated against the construction of a multi-use trail development project that would have impacted the winter range of Idaho's largest mule deer herd. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ultimately decided not to pursue the project. 

The chapter also successfully lobbied against Idaho House Bill 514, a bill that would have removed the political affiliation requirements for Idaho Fish & Game Commissioners. IDBHA joined the Idaho Sportsmen's Alliance in opposing the bill, which would have allowed partisan politics to enter into wildlife management discussions. The bill was ultimately tabled. 


The Indiana Chapter formed a new volunteer partnership with the U.S. Forest Service in the Hoosier National Forest. Located in southern Indiana’s hill country, the Hoosier National Forest consists of 204,000 acres of hardwood forests, streams and backcountry trails.


The chapter supported a bill at the legislature to expand an existing state wildlife area by 500 acres.


The Kentucky Chapter was instrumental in creating and awarding the inaugural BHA Scholarship at the University of Kentucky.


The Minnesota Chapter partnered with Pheasants Forever in raising funds to acquire 955 acres in the Cupido Wildlife Management Area to increase access to public lands. 


The Missouri Chapter joined an effort led by other public access advocates in the state to defend an important public fishing access site on the Finley River from privatization and permanent closure.


The Montana Chapter successfully lobbied against the use of hovercrafts on Montana’s rivers.

The chapter also was successful in opposing portions of a land swap in the Crazy Mountains that would have restricted access to prime elk habitat. The U.S. Forest Service ultimately amended the proposal in response to comments from MTBHA members and other concerned sportsmen and women.


The Nevada Chapter joined the national organization in opposing a potential expansion of the Nevada Test and Training Range through the National Defense Authorization Act into the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, which would have impacted a key bighorn sheep migration corridor. Lawmakers ultimately postponed any expansion until 2046.

New England

The New England Chapter introduced legislation in Rhode Island to outlaw captive cervid hunting.

New Jersey

The New Jersey Chapter launched a campaign to protect black bear hunting opportunities in the state.

New Mexico

The New Mexico Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, together with the New Mexico Wildlife Federation and the Adobe Whitewater Club, filed a lawsuit asking the New Mexico Supreme Court to strike down the commission’s stream closure regulation as unconstitutional, and to open all waters in New Mexico for public use – provided that users do not trespass over private land to either reach the river or leave it.

North Dakota

The North Dakota Chapter successfully advocated against a proposed rule change proposal from the State Land Department which would have made easier to sell off parcels of state land. 


After over 53,000 acres of land were restored by American Electric Power after years of strip mining were complete, the Ohio Department of National Resources finally reached an agreement to purchase 31,000 acres from AEP to protect this land as a public resource. The Ohio Chapter led a public awareness campaign, worked with state agencies and advocated in support of this acquisition. 

The chapter was also awarded the U.S. Forest Service Eastern Region Volunteers and Service Award.


The Oregon Chapter was chosen to represent the interests of sportsmen and women on Gov. Kate Brown's Oregon Conservation and Recreation Advisory Committee.


The Pennsylvania Chapter led four public lands cleanup campaigns to reduce litter and enhance wildlife habitat.


The Southeast Chapter had a recent policy win when their efforts led the Florida Wildlife Commission to elect to include hunting as a viable option to manage the bear population in Florida.


The Texas Chapter recently celebrated a legal victory when the state appeals court affirmed public ownership of wildlife, thwarting deer breeding operations from avoiding chronic wasting disease testing on their captive-bred whitetail deer. The chapter contributed funds and resources to joining an amicus brief submitted last year on this issue.


The Utah Chapter, together with the national organization, led a campaign calling out Sen. Mike Lee for his vote against the Great American Outdoors Act through billboards, letters and other media. 


On Feb. 10, 2020, the Wild Steelhead Coalition secured a purchase of an 8-acre parcel of land on the Lower Grande Ronde River, ultimately conserving this piece of land and 2,000 feet of riverfront access for public use. The Washington Chapter contributed significantly to this acquisition. 


The Wyoming Chapter submitted multiple comments as part of a sportsmen coalition to Gov. Gordon in response to the draft Executive Order on Wyoming Migration Corridor Protection. Likewise, the chapter led multiple fence removal projects to improve wildlife habitat connectivity in key corridors. 



BHA members and supporters sent 121,805 letters to legislators and decisionmakers in 2020 on issues regarding conservation, public lands, fair chase and other hunting and fishing issues.

Collegiate Club 

  • Our clubs had a successful year despite remote learning and university restrictions. Our clubs completed nearly 50 on-the-ground work service projects with work continuing into 2021 with the implementation of the Public Land Owner Stewardship Fund, which awarded five clubs funds for stewardship projects on their local public lands and waters.

  • We implemented our first BHA scholarship at the University of Louisville to Political Science and Pan-African studies major, Maurice Rodgers. The scholarship, supported by KY BHA member and chapter leader Colonel Mike, supports future political leaders and introduces them to our mission and work as hunters and anglers. 

  • Club leaders stepped up to help pass the Great American Outdoors Act. Students called and wrote their representatives, submitted quotes, shared videos, and participated in live Crowdcast events adding to BHA’s resounding voice to push this historic legislation through Congress.

Podcast & Blast

  • This July, we celebrated three years of partnering with renowned journalist Hal Herring in producing one of the most successful conservation-focused podcasts in the outdoor space.

Armed Forces Initiative

  • BHA Armed Forces Initiative's Active Duty pillar was able to stand up four installations within the first six months of the program’s existence. This includes Ft. Bragg, NC; Camp Lejeune, NC; Camp Pendleton, NC; and Fort Wainwright, AK. These installation clubs educate, connect and empower currently serving military members in hunting and fishing opportunities with long term mentorship and community development.

  • The veteran pillar was able to successfully build and run our inaugural Eastern Montana Deer Camp. Our time in this camp taught new and experienced hunters how to hunt deer in this landscape and educated veterans at night over policy discussions on Public Lands 101, Understanding Bill Procedures, and how veterans can use their voice as conservationists towards important issues like the Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoor Act.

  • From the start of the BHA Armed Forces Initiative, the Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act has been identified as AFI's No. 1 priority for legislation efforts. The passage of AVROA into law is a major win for all veterans. BHA AFI is positioned to engage in depth with the necessary AVROA Task Force required by this law, due to the organization’s historical work in federal public lands. 

Recruiting the Next Generation

  • BHA successfully applied and was selected for an AFWA Multi-State Conservation Grant to focus on R3 (hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation) work in the Midwest. Partnering with MAFWA, DJ Case & Associates and individual state fish and game agencies, BHA will utilize data market strategies to enhance new audience engagement, R3 curriculum development and program efficacy with a focus on small game species such as rabbits and squirrels. 
  • The COVID-19 pandemic tabled nearly all of our in-person events and with a shift to a virtual world, BHA successfully hosted a Field to Table Small Game Processing Series with partners Benchmade, Filson and Weston. The four events showcased a 30,000 foot view of hunting the intended species, a detailed demonstration on how to process the game animal and a few unique ways to cook each. With the help of our grassroots leadership, we ran live events and demonstrated waterfowl, cottontail rabbit, jackrabbit and squirrel. We plan to host many more of these types of events in 2021! 
  • With almost all events moved online, BHA's chapters still rose to the occasion to further our R3 work. The Arizona Chapter and Northern Arizona University club hosted their first Hunting for Sustainability weekend program focused on upland game birds' and rabbits - all while staying COVID safe and partnering with AZGFD and Quail Forever. The New York chapter also successfully hosted a 4-part Learn to Hunt Series online that attracted over 300 live attendees and within days had over 1,000 views. These examples reflect the great efforts that our grassroots leaders were able to execute during such an unfamiliar year.  


  • We continued to expand North America’s largest and most active group of public lands sportsmen and women, establishing new chapters in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Hike to Hunt

  • BHA members hiked 32,000 miles this summer, raising $65,000 in support of our conservation priorities.

Public Land Pack Out

  • Our members collected 4,175 bags of trash from our public lands this year, thereby improving fishing access sites, campgrounds, trailheads and other important sites that benefit hunters and anglers. 

 BHA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and your donation is tax deductible.

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