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Proposed Border Legislation Could Override Wildlife Protection Laws and Public Access Rights

June 29, 2012

I live in Michigan, which, of course, borders Canada. I’ve never really thought much about the border. I suppose I simply figured the most egregious smuggling here involves bootleg maple syrup and duty-free liquor. But apparently, it’s dangerous ground.So dangerous, in fact, the U.S. House approved a bill on Tuesday that, according to opponents, would supersede some pretty powerful national laws including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Park Service Organic Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.The "National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act," would give the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection sweeping access to federal lands within 100 miles of the U.S. border. These are lands, of course, that are largely open to public hunting and fishing.

2 | Read the full entry

Guide to America's Public Land

Click on your state in the map below.

Find the top public-land destinations in your state, including:

  • Wildlife Refuges
  • State WMAs
  • National Forests
  • Fishing Access Sites

About Open Country

Hunters and anglers across the nation consistently list one challenge as their primary obstacle to spending more time in the field: Access.

Outdoor Life's Open Country program aims to tackle that issue head on and with boots on the ground. The program highlights volunteer-driven efforts to improve access along with habitat improvements to make existing public lands even better places to hunt and fish. The program's goal is to substantially increase sportsman's access across the country by promoting events that make a difference.

Here on Open Country's blog page, contributors take a close look at access issues across the country. Some are public-policy discussions, where we investigate the nuances of public access. In other blogs, we shine a light on attempts to turn public recreation opportunities into private hunting and fishing domains. In still other blogs, we interview decision makers about access issues. Together, we fight for the ability of America's hunters and anglers to have a place to swing a gun or wet a line.

We promise the discussion is always lively, interesting, and fresh, so visit this page frequently to tune into the latest access issue.

The Open Country program culminates in grants and awards with top projects and participants being honored.

Submit a project for the Open Country Grant Award.
Nominate an individual for the Open Country Award.

Open Country



Event Calendar

  • June 1: Red Oak Planting in Gwinn Forest Management Unit
  • June 7: Pinegrass Restoration, Willamette River (Eugene, OR REMF Chapter). Contact.
  • June 7-8: Lower Deschutes River Thistle Cut (OR Foundation for North American Wild Sheep and OR Fish and Wildlife). Contact.
  • June 13-15: Prairie City Aspen Habitat Enhancement (Oregon Hunters Association, Capitol Chapter) Contact: 503-399-1234
  • June 21: Smith Ridge Meadows (Eugene, OR Chapter RMEF). Contact.

  • June 28, 2012

    Mr. Kennedy Give Us A Call: It's Time to End the Stream Access Battle in Montana-2


    The key to good negotiation is good communication. With that, we’d like to invite James Cox Kennedy to an informal meeting to stop the war he’s waging on stream access in Montana. Our invitation is sincere, and we hope that he takes us up on it.  

    Here’s the scoop…

    There’s a spot down on the Ruby River, just outside of Twin Bridges, Montana that’s become ground zero for Montana’s stream access battle. It’s a place I know well. I’ve driven past it for the last few years headed to my whitetail hunting spots. I’ve seen Booner bucks and gaudily clad pheasants in vast numbers on the ranch of James Cox Kennedy, an absentee landowner and multi-millionaire who seems intent on destroying Montana’s popular stream access law. The kicker is, if Kennedy has his way on the Ruby River, it could set a legal precedent for access in the rest of the state.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 11, 2012

    Open Country Events-0


    Open Country Grassroots Contest

    The Open Country Grassroots Contest (the “Contest”) is sponsored by Outdoor Life magazine, a publication of Bonnier Corporation (“Sponsor”).   

    ONE (1) GRAND PRIZE:  Outdoor Life participates in access event. A winner will be chosen to have his or her conservation project promoted and documented in the magazine and/or online, based on the scope of the project and its projected impact on game and fish species.

    All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply; void where prohibited.  PRIZES MAY BE SUBJECT TO TAX; ALL APPLICABLE TAXES ARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WINNER.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 8, 2012

    Senator Tester Introduces Sweeping Farm Bill Amendment, Great Win for Outdoorsmen-2


    You and I are locked out of close to 35 million acres of our land. We can’t get to it. Roads are blocked, access points are closed, and sometimes there’s even a guy in a black cowboy hat standing at the gate with a menacing scowl.

    That ain’t right, but things are about to change.

    On Thursday, Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) announced that he had pulled together 20 provisions designed to increase access to public lands, help fund new shooting ranges on public land, reauthorize critical wildlife programs, and keep the EPA out of the hunting and angling business.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 8, 2012

    How to Advocate for a Species: Fish and Hunt for It-1


    If you’re a hunter you’ve probably been asked this question: How can you love an animal and then kill it?

    There are lots of ways to answer that, but one of the best is that sportsmen’s investment in the resources we hunt and fish—through license sales and taxes on sporting equipment—funds habitat work and wildlife management. But there’s another way to answer: sportsmen have the most intimate relationships with the places and the species we hunt and fish, and will advocate for them more intensely than any other group.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 5, 2012

    Michigan's Coaster Brook Trout: Does Limiting Access Benefit the Resource?-5


    Maybe you recall last week’s post about a controversial access issue in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Today, we will look at the other side of the story on the Salmon Trout River.

    To recap, the river flows into Lake Superior and harbors one of the last remaining runs of coaster brook trout. Coasters are brook trout that are reared in rivers and streams but live the majority of their lives in Lake Superior. In those deep, cold waters they grow to substantial proportions – far larger than brookies that live out their lives inland. In the fall, when they reach sexual maturity, coasters return to the rivers and streams from which they came to spawn. Coasters are the only migratory salmonid native to Lake Superior.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 4, 2012

    Utah Takes a Step Toward Better Stream Access, Legal Battle Continues-2


    Unless your state is like Montana, Idaho or just a few others, strolling onto a top trout stream is no easy task. You have to rely on state access sites, which often times are few and far between. Think combat fishing situations where elbows get thrown alongside spinners and flies.

    But some states are trying to buck this trend, and Utah is one of them. Back in 2010, the Utah Stream Access Coalition fought the Utah Legislature which took away stream access rights that had been granted by a court earlier. Unfortunately, the Utah Stream Access Coalition was unable to kill the attempt to eliminate the public from public waters.

    [ Read Full Post ]