Access has emerged as a priority issue for American hunters and anglers, and lack of access is cited by sportsmen as the No. 1 reason why we stop pursuing our passions. BHA works to enhance public access by
- Defending Stream Access
- Advocating for the Land and Water Conservation Fund
- Working to Enhance Access to Public Land
Our outdoor heritage is guided by the public lands legacy established by President Theodore Roosevelt and his fellow visionaries. These foresighted individuals understood the importance of taking action both for the sake of the resource and for the benefit of the generations that follow ours. That spirit of stewardship, along with the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and the Public Trust Doctrine, make the United States unique. They set our country apart by declaring that fish and wildlife belong to each and every citizen – and we all have equal opportunities to access and enjoy them.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is committed to advancing legislative and administrative efforts to secure access to quality hunting and fishing on our public lands and waters. Places that have become isolated, landlocked without legal easement or entangled in ownership disputes are prime targets of our advocacy; for example, more than 2 million public acres in the state of Montana alone are blocked from public access, surrounded by private lands. But BHA also is engaged in informing sportsmen about and expanding existing access opportunities to hunt, fish and enjoy the backcountry.
The concepts of access and opportunity extend well beyond physical barriers. Well-monied interests are invested in dismantling the North American Model in favor of practices that benefit only those who can pay for these privileges. BHA is committed to amplifying the voices of our state chapters to influence policies that not only address the physical issue of access but also prioritize conservation of key lands and waters, protection of valuable habitat, implementation of responsible land management policies, and resistance against the privatization of public lands, waters and wildlife.
For anglers, waterfowlers and other sportsmen, access to streams and waterways is the most important factor in our participation in – and the perpetuation of – our storied outdoor traditions. Our access opportunities, however, are far from guaranteed. Efforts are underway to change existing stream access laws, which vary widely from state to state, to bar us from fishing, wading, floating or otherwise utilizing these important resources. But despite all that’s at stake, no national sportsmen’s group has undertaken activities to address the issue. Until now.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers won’t sit still as our stream access heritage is eroded. BHA has launched a new campaign, Stream Access Now, to create awareness of existing stream access laws, fight those proposals that aim to limit stream access, and proactively work to expand stream access opportunities.
Created by Congress more than 50 years ago, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is a bipartisan commitment to safeguarding our sporting heritage by conserving lands with high wildlife habitat value, important water resources that support healthy fisheries, and key access for recreational opportunities like hunting and fishing – activities that fuel a $646-billion annual outdoor recreation economy.
For generations, sportsmen and women have depended on the public hunting and fishing access and quality fish and wildlife habitat provided by the LWCF. Now is the time to permanently reauthorize and fully fund this important program for the generations that follow ours.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers provides a unique voice for sportsmen and women who value conservation and the future of our heritage and family traditions. We represent the challenge, solitude and adventure that only the backcountry can provide, and we are working hard with boots on the ground at all levels to ensure that our roadless areas and backcountry are protected for the fish and wildlife that thrive there.
Not all of our public lands are accessible, however, and we are working to advance administrative and legislative solutions at the state and national levels – solutions that facilitate collaboration among stakeholders to open access to landlocked public lands and secure stewardship opportunities for those landscapes so that hunters and anglers can continue to be America's conservation leaders.