Access has emerged as a priority issue for North American hunters and anglers, and lack of access is cited by sportsmen and women as the No. 1 reason why we stop pursuing our passions.
Our outdoor heritage is guided by the public lands legacy established a century ago by visionary leaders. 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 and Canada unique. The enshrined rights to pursue opportunities in the field on public lands and waters is a core aspect of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers mission and a main driver of our vision to make certain all hunters and anglers are able to seek fish and game on shared public lands.
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 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.
North America’s public lands and waters are the lifeblood of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. These are the cherished wild places that restore our spirits and provide the solace of solitude. They’re where we go to challenge ourselves in pursuit of adventure and game. They are strongholds of important wildlife habitat and fisheries, providing places where a range of species – everything from elk and mule deer to grouse, waterfowl and native trout – can grow to maturity and thrive.
Every citizen owns a share of public lands and waters in the United States. It is up to us to defend this heritage and ensure that our legacy of stewardship is handed down to future generations intact. We work to maintain our longstanding sporting traditions through hard work and a focus on habitat conservation, conserving priority landscapes and defending our public lands legacy.
In the early 1900s, Theodore Roosevelt helped pioneer standards for ethical hunting. Our country has changed enormously since then, and new challenges have arisen with changes in technology and financially motivated special interests.
We now are facing threats that Roosevelt and his contemporaries scarcely could have imagined. Emerging technology like drones gives sportsmen an unfair advantage in scouting and hunting.
These and other fair chase issues demand our vigilance and continued advocacy. We not only must abide by the principles handed down by Roosevelt and other sportsmen; we also must update and elevate those principles to address our rapidly changing culture. Overall, we must ensure that the ethical pursuit of fish and game is upheld as dearly as our own obligation to morality and citizenship.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is home to a number of proactive public lands and waters initiatives. Our Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation program gets new and old hunters out in the field with each other while our College Clubs stoke the fires of our next generation of conservation leaders across North America. The recently created Armed Forces Initiative is activating our double the national average military membership at military installations and on our public lands and waters.