September 26, 2013
HUNT Act: New Bill to Increase Hunting and Fishing Access on Public Lands
By Ben Romans
U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) reintroduced a bill today, that, if signed into law, will allow increased access for hunters and fishermen on federal public lands. The bill directs federal agencies to inventory all public lands larger than 640 acres where hunting and fishing are legal but inaccessible, then work with neighboring landowners to purchase parcels that facilitate access.
Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures Act (HUNT Act) is Heinrich's second attempt to expand hunting and angling access to public lands by financing adjacent land purchases from willing sellers using a small percentage of monies from the Land and Water Conservation Fund—federal money earmarked for conservation projects across the nation. Heinrich made a similar proposal in 2012 when he was a member of the House of Representatives, but the congressional session ended before legislators voted.
A press release from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership says groups like the National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited and the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers applaud the bill.
"The HUNT Act would open millions of acres of landlocked public lands to public access, expanding the opportunity for sportsmen to hunt, fish and otherwise enjoy these uniquely American resources," said Joel Webster, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership's Center for Western Lands. "Sportsmen need two things to be able to hunt and fish: access and opportunity. We appreciate Senator Heinrich's leadership in introducing this measure and specifically addressing the very real challenge of diminished public access to our publicly owned lands and waters."
It will be several months before Heinrich's HUNT Act moves through committees and is on the Senate floor for debate, and finally, a vote.