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Sportsmen Support Bill to Improve Hunting and Fishing Access on Public Land

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July 17, 2012

Sportsmen Support Bill to Improve Hunting and Fishing Access on Public Land

By Chad Love

Hunting, fishing and conservation groups are throwing their support behind a bill designed to improve access to public lands that currently have right-of-way issues.

From this story on krqe.com
Sportsmen in New Mexico and elsewhere are throwing their support behind federal legislation that aims to improve access for hunters and anglers to millions of acres of public land. U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., introduced the measure last week. It calls for an inventory of all public parcels larger than a square mile where hunting and fishing are allowed but where access is blocked.

According to the story, the proposed legislation also directs agencies to seek easements and right-of-ways to blocks of public land that are currently landlocked by private land. Thoughts? Good idea? Do you know of a piece of public land you'd love to hunt or fish, but can't because it's surrounded by private land?

Comments (5)

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from jdwood wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

I would love to see that in some places in Wyoming, I've been in some nice areas of BLM land for work that are completely surrounded by private land with no access, would be nice to hunt in there.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

This has been a MAJOR bone of contention in Montana for as long as I have been hunting. It's bad enough these landowners (many of them dude ranch operators) are keeping the public from accessing the game on their property but keeping us from accessing public land as well as the public game that's on it? That is just plain BS. But I'm telling you there is a helluva a lot of that going on. In Montana entire mountain ranges of public land in Montana are completely inaccessible. The law needs to force these guys to cough up an easement or it should provide some kind of expeditious process to condemn the land needed for one. In any event, it is going to be very expensive but very worthwhile for sportsmen in the long run. We should step up and offer to pony up for a fund to get this going and keep it going. The expense will cause it to die on the vine if we leave it up to the feds. I know. I have seen this campaign started many times in the past and then it just dies when it comes down to the $$$.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from JohnR wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

I'm a strong believer that the landowner is lord of his land and no one has the right to tell him what to do with it (within reason of course; i.e. as in deciding on his/her own to use the land as a toxic waste dump site).
That being said I will add to Ontario Honker's post that public land should not be landlocked. I have read that some of these landowners that own property blocking access to public land do it because they can and in some cases (not all of them) it is motivated by nothing more than greed. It is a legal way to be able to be the sole user of said public land because no one else has access without trespassing. It's like increasing one's property without having to pay taxes on it (that bill falls on us).
I would not care if the govt. used imminent domain to take enough property (fairly compensated of course) to create a reasonable access to said public land without interfering with the landowner's operation.
Of course it will take $$$ to accomplish that because the landowners that deliberately have property surrounding public land will most assuredly fight the Govt. in court.
It's kind of like how these situations got that way are moot. It's more about OK so how do we fix it?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

I am a strong believer that the PROPERTY owner should be the lord of his own property. Game is public property but few seem concerned about the public's right to access or control what WE own. Why does landowner's mere surface rights supercede the property rights of others? Sorry, but I just have never been able to see the justification for that. I believe surface rights owners who restrict or eliminate the public property owners' right to access their game should at least have to pay for that priveledge. The public's water rights and mineral rights and timber rights are not given away. Why are the public's wild game rights given away without at least some compensation to them?

Take a look at any of the various district block management maps put out by Fish & Wildlife in Montana and you'll see the problem. Federal parcels are denoted in blue and state parcels are denoted in yellow. Ranchers have enclosed these lands by right of ownership of the grazing rights from grandfathered agreements. But they do not own the land. However, if they own all the land around it, they can keep the public from accessing the government parcels. And there are THOUSANDS of cases where this occurs. Thousands! The recent big stink has some of these hogs trying to keep people from crossing from one federal parcel to another that's diagonally connected. The hogs put fences through the borders and maintain that public cannot get from the corner of one state/federal section to the corner of next without treading on their private property i.e. their fences. They are correct. Of course, the reasonable solution would be to allow the public to cross through the nearest gate. But no, they won't do that! It's all about hogging the public's game anyway possible. I have no use for that crap.

I believe that legislation should be passed MANDATING that landowners who limit or eliminate public access to public land of a certain respectable size either cease doing so OR give up access easements WITHOUT compensation. But if an easement is given, the government must be responsible for new fencing, cattlegaurds, gates, etc. The big objection of the problem landowners (mostly transplants who really have no interest in genuine ranching or farming) has been that doing this would cripple their outfitting businesses and ruin their speculative property values. Boo-hoo! Speculation is about winning and losing. If they have speculated on something they don't own (the public's game and the public's land), sorry but I don't have any sympathy for them!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bootheel Hunter wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

Nice to have a hunter in congress who understands the issues. I know of a few places this bill would help open up. Here's a link to a story about the congressman who wrote the bill and how much he likes to hunt and fish:

www.nmpolitics.net/index/2012/05/in-hunting-heinrichs-views-find-cohesio...

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

This has been a MAJOR bone of contention in Montana for as long as I have been hunting. It's bad enough these landowners (many of them dude ranch operators) are keeping the public from accessing the game on their property but keeping us from accessing public land as well as the public game that's on it? That is just plain BS. But I'm telling you there is a helluva a lot of that going on. In Montana entire mountain ranges of public land in Montana are completely inaccessible. The law needs to force these guys to cough up an easement or it should provide some kind of expeditious process to condemn the land needed for one. In any event, it is going to be very expensive but very worthwhile for sportsmen in the long run. We should step up and offer to pony up for a fund to get this going and keep it going. The expense will cause it to die on the vine if we leave it up to the feds. I know. I have seen this campaign started many times in the past and then it just dies when it comes down to the $$$.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jdwood wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

I would love to see that in some places in Wyoming, I've been in some nice areas of BLM land for work that are completely surrounded by private land with no access, would be nice to hunt in there.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

I am a strong believer that the PROPERTY owner should be the lord of his own property. Game is public property but few seem concerned about the public's right to access or control what WE own. Why does landowner's mere surface rights supercede the property rights of others? Sorry, but I just have never been able to see the justification for that. I believe surface rights owners who restrict or eliminate the public property owners' right to access their game should at least have to pay for that priveledge. The public's water rights and mineral rights and timber rights are not given away. Why are the public's wild game rights given away without at least some compensation to them?

Take a look at any of the various district block management maps put out by Fish & Wildlife in Montana and you'll see the problem. Federal parcels are denoted in blue and state parcels are denoted in yellow. Ranchers have enclosed these lands by right of ownership of the grazing rights from grandfathered agreements. But they do not own the land. However, if they own all the land around it, they can keep the public from accessing the government parcels. And there are THOUSANDS of cases where this occurs. Thousands! The recent big stink has some of these hogs trying to keep people from crossing from one federal parcel to another that's diagonally connected. The hogs put fences through the borders and maintain that public cannot get from the corner of one state/federal section to the corner of next without treading on their private property i.e. their fences. They are correct. Of course, the reasonable solution would be to allow the public to cross through the nearest gate. But no, they won't do that! It's all about hogging the public's game anyway possible. I have no use for that crap.

I believe that legislation should be passed MANDATING that landowners who limit or eliminate public access to public land of a certain respectable size either cease doing so OR give up access easements WITHOUT compensation. But if an easement is given, the government must be responsible for new fencing, cattlegaurds, gates, etc. The big objection of the problem landowners (mostly transplants who really have no interest in genuine ranching or farming) has been that doing this would cripple their outfitting businesses and ruin their speculative property values. Boo-hoo! Speculation is about winning and losing. If they have speculated on something they don't own (the public's game and the public's land), sorry but I don't have any sympathy for them!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from JohnR wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

I'm a strong believer that the landowner is lord of his land and no one has the right to tell him what to do with it (within reason of course; i.e. as in deciding on his/her own to use the land as a toxic waste dump site).
That being said I will add to Ontario Honker's post that public land should not be landlocked. I have read that some of these landowners that own property blocking access to public land do it because they can and in some cases (not all of them) it is motivated by nothing more than greed. It is a legal way to be able to be the sole user of said public land because no one else has access without trespassing. It's like increasing one's property without having to pay taxes on it (that bill falls on us).
I would not care if the govt. used imminent domain to take enough property (fairly compensated of course) to create a reasonable access to said public land without interfering with the landowner's operation.
Of course it will take $$$ to accomplish that because the landowners that deliberately have property surrounding public land will most assuredly fight the Govt. in court.
It's kind of like how these situations got that way are moot. It's more about OK so how do we fix it?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bootheel Hunter wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

Nice to have a hunter in congress who understands the issues. I know of a few places this bill would help open up. Here's a link to a story about the congressman who wrote the bill and how much he likes to hunt and fish:

www.nmpolitics.net/index/2012/05/in-hunting-heinrichs-views-find-cohesio...

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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