A radical cry to wrest our national forests and Bureau of Land Management land away from public ownership is being heard throughout the West. That cry should alarm all Americans who cherish their freedom to hunt and fish.
The American people own 450 million acres of national forest, rangeland, wildlife refuges and national parks. Some of these lands are famous while others are obscure "secret spots." They include trout streams, elk pastures, duck marshes and huckleberry patches. Our federal land system and outdoor heritage is the envy of the world and depends on keeping federal public lands out of state ownership.
Politicians who want to grab our public land repeat predictable talking points: they argue that federal government is mismanaging the land so it should be handed over to the states.
But sportsmen and women should see the ‘state control’ mantra for what it is: a smokescreen. State budgets are already stretched to the breaking point and states are not eager to pick up the costs that are part-and-parcel of managing these lands. Fire fighting costs alone would crush state budgets.
States would face only one resolution: sell the land. This would be a wholesale disaster for the American outdoor family. For all its warts, federal land management guarantees that every American has a voice in how that land is managed and they have an equal right to set foot on it.
Not so if public land suddenly becomes a private hunt club or a tree farm for a timber company.
Sportsmen and women need to ask those who represent them some hard questions: Are they siding with the forces that want to liquidate our outdoor heritage? And if so, why should they be trusted with something so rare and irreplaceable as America’s access to the Great Outdoors? Join BHA in letting our elected officials at every level know that hunters and anglers want no part of a public land transfer from federal to state ownership.