BHA Applauds Legislative Effort to Stop Public Land Transfers

For Immediate Release

Feb. 19, 2024 

Contact: Thomas Plank, 303-720-0111 [email protected] 

BHA Applauds Legislative Effort to Stop Public Land Transfers  

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  As the leading voice for the protection of public lands, waters, and wildlife, today Backcountry Hunters & Anglers shared its support for the Public Lands in Public Hands Act, a bill that would help protect publicly-owned land from privatization. Introduced earlier today in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) and Gabe Vasquez (D-NM), this bipartisan legislation recognizes the irreplaceable value that public lands have for hunters and anglers. 

The Public Lands in Public Hands Act would require congressional approval for the sale or transfer of publicly accessible tracts of federal land greater than 300 acres, or greater than five acres if accessible by public waterway. This is a critical improvement from current law in which federal land management agencies have broad discretion to sell or transfer publicly owned parcels that provide valuable habitat, public access, and recreational opportunities. Limiting lands previously identified for disposal by the Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service will greatly reduce the threat of privatization for valuable public resources owned by all Americans. 

“Core to the BHA mission is the sanctity of public lands and waters, resources cherished by hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts, and valued as an irreplaceable part of our natural heritage. Without publicly accessible places to recreate, many Americans who share a love for hunting and fishing would be excluded from the opportunity to pursue their passion,” said Patrick Berry, BHA's President and CEO. “We thank Reps. Zinke and Vasquez for introducing the Public Lands in Public Hands Act which would help to ensure our hunting and angling traditions can continue for future generations.”  

As privatization and development continues to threaten wild places in our public domain, sufficient guardrails to the loss of access are more important than ever. Policies that keep public lands in public hands are essential to safeguarding the access and habitat enjoyed by sportsmen and women.  

“Preventing publicly accessible lands managed by the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service from being sold off or transferred is a straightforward and commonsense policy supported by hunters and anglers not just in Montana, but across the United States,” said John Sullivan III, BHA’s Montana Chapter Board Chair. “Passing this legislation into law would strengthen the integrity of our public lands estate and make it more difficult to sell or transfer these invaluable places.” 

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers seeks to ensure North America's outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands, waters, and wildlife. 

About Thomas Plank

Communications Manager for BHA

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