Tester introduces bill to open up hunting, fishing access on public lands

Senator’s bipartisan plan uses Land and Water Conservation Fund resources to ‘make public lands public’

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today introduced legislation to open up access for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation on existing public lands.

Tester’s bipartisan Making Public Lands Public Act would direct the U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior to spend at least 1.5 percent of Land and Water Conservation Fund resources each year on projects like easements and road maintenance, to open up access to public lands.  The Land and Water Conservation Fund is funded with revenue from offshore drilling, which means it does not add to the federal deficit.

For every dollar invested in LWCF, $4 is invested in local economies, which Tester says strengthens rural communities and creates jobs.

Tester, chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, said that access to public land is one of the biggest issues for Montana hunters, anglers and outdoorsmen.

“Montana’s public lands are some of the best in the world, and they’re where we pass on our outdoor traditions to our kids and grandkids,” Tester said.  “But we’re seeing too much of this land blocked, surrounded by private land with closed gates.  Montanans who own land are good neighbors.  Most are good partners in our fight for public access, and this responsible bill builds on that partnership.”

Tester’s bill is supported by more than forty hunting, fishing and conservation organizations, including the NRA, Safari Club International, and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Nature Conservancy.

Land Tawney, President of Hellgate Hunters and Anglers and Senior Manager of Sportsmen’s leadership for the National Wildlife Federation, praised Tester’s legislation.

“Hunting and fishing is a way of life in Montana,” said Tawney, a fifth-generation Montanan.  “Public lands provide all Montanans the opportunity to hunt and fish.  Access to public lands is a significant challenge for too many Montana sportsmen.  Senator Tester’s legislation tackles this problem head on.  We appreciate Senator Tester listening to hunters and anglers and representing our values in the Senate.”

A 2004 report found that more than 35 million acres of public land across the country have inadequate public access. 

Tester’s bipartisan Making Public Lands Public Act, which is cosponsored by Senator Jim Risch, R-Idaho, is available on his website, HERE.