Heinrich Introduces Access Bill
Last week I asked if anyone knew of any NGO’s focused on access… Here’s an access bill in the House. I don’t know if there are folks against public access to public lands.. or whether this is one of the elusive THINGS EVERYONE AGREES ON?
Here’s a link to the story and below is an excerpt:
A New Mexico Democrat this week introduced a bill to improve access to public lands for hunters, anglers and other recreation seekers.
Rep. Martin Heinrich’s H.R. 6086 would require federal agencies to identify lands currently lacking public access routes for recreation and to craft plans to improve access to lands valuable to sportsmen.
The legislation, which was assigned to the Natural Resources Committee, targets lands available to the public that are essentially inaccessible, since there is no trail or road leading to them.
In New Mexico, such areas include the Sabinoso Wilderness in San Miguel County and the Alamo Hueco Mountains wilderness study area, said Heinrich spokesman John Blair.
The bill also would require federal land managers to provide a public database of access routes to their lands, a provision designed to inform the state and local governments that manage those roads.
Lastly, the bill includes language that would require that 1.5 percent of the money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund be used to acquire easements and rights of way from willing sellers to improve access to public lands. That would equal nearly $5 million at current funding levels.
Ben Lamb, a hunter from Montana, said the bill is a win for sportsmen.
“It directs the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to do what many outdoorsmen have been asking those agencies to do for years: Inventory public lands, figure out which areas are inaccessible, and decide what resources are needed to change that,” Lamb said in an op-ed this week in Outdoor Life.
The bill is among a handful of measures floated in Congress recently to strengthen sportsmen’s access and curb federal agencies’ ability to restrict hunting and angling activities.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) has at least twice proposed language similar to Heinrich’s to devote LWCF funding to promote access, most recently in an amendment to the Senate farm bill that did not receive a vote. Congress has so far struggled to pass any significant sportsmen’s bills.
“Easements, small land acquisitions and inventorying public land shouldn’t be controversial issues, but it is an election year,” Lamb wrote. “Who knows how this will shake out.”
I wonder if the partisan pitfall could be avoided somehow? And useful work could be done?