Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, sponsor of the Hunt Act, plays a trout in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. Photo by Garrett VeneKlasen - See more at: http://www.ourpubliclands.org/#sthash.TfwPCiT4.dpuf
Recreating outdoors—whether you fish, hunt, hike, camp, or all of the above—is not only a ton of fun, it’s also good for you. There is considerable evidence the
exercise involved with these activities, coupled with the de-stressing benefits of being in nature, promote physical and mental health.
For a majority of Americans, participating in their favorite outdoor activities often involve being able to access public lands. For sportsmen and women especially,
public lands are often vital for enjoying hunting and fishing. Unfortunately, many federal public lands are actually off-limits to the public because they are
surrounded by private lands and lack legal access. A recent report found that more than four million acres of these so-called “landlocked” public lands in the West
are closed to outdoor recreation.
“Surveys and polls conducted of sportsmen and women across the country consistently demonstrate that access is one of the most important priorities,” said
John Gale, sportsmen campaigns manager for the National Wildlife Federation.
The Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures Act, S.1554, seeks to fix the problem of poor access due to “landlocked” public lands. The HUNT Act by New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich, would require federal land management agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to identify public tracts larger than 640 acres that have recreational potential but are currently closed to public access.
The HUNT Act would require no additional taxes and fees. Funds for easements and other access improvements would come from allocating up to 1.5 percent of
the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which receives revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling.
Russell Bassett is the National Wildlife Federation's online campaign coordinator for hunter and angler outreach. Before joining NWF, Bassett was the executive director of NWF’s Oregon affiliate, The Association of Northwest Steelheaders. He has worked with other conservation organizations, as a public affairs supervisor while serving in the US Army in Korea and Iraq and for newspapers as a reporter, photographer and designer.