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Maryland Land Access Battle: Whose Job is it to Protect Public Land?

August 31, 2012

I have a morning routine in which I try to spend 30 minutes reading about as many happenings in the hunting and fishing world as I can. It's a task that's made infinitely simpler thanks to Google's alerts system. If you're not familiar with it, the system basically allows you to tell Google to send you alerts about stories, blogs and other news services that contain key phrases that you specific. So my alerts send me information about "hunting", "fishing", "public land" and "Eliza Dushku." In my defense, the Dushku alert was created after PETA proclaimed her to be "Jeffrey Dahmer" after saying in an interview that she enjoyed hunting elk. I just keep forgetting to delete it. . .seriously.An interesting story I've been following thanks to a Google alert is an issue involving the future of several thousand acres of land in Maryland's Worcester County.According to the report, the Maryland Forest Service proposed opening 4,800 acres of land in the Chesapeake Forest to public hunting. Previously, the former timber operation was held as a private lease by a hunting club.

4 | 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.

  • August 20, 2012

    Hunting and Fishing Increase in Popularity, Who Gets the Credit?-2


    So how do you know when election season has arrived?

    You start hearing the words "hunting" and "fishing" coming out of the mouths of the politicians (and their staffs) hoping to get elected.

    Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, has been a frequent source of sound bites concerning the recent release of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.

    That survey offered some encouraging news: Hunting and fishing participation in the United States has grown.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 20, 2012

    He's a Hunter, but Paul Ryan’s Budget Deserves Scrutiny-9


    It’s an election year, for better or worse. It’s that weird time when we get to see who in the political world wants to pander to hunters and anglers. We’ve seen the photos of Eastern dudes who just walked out of a L.L. Bean catalog and have clearly never had their hands in a gut pile. We’ve been subjugated to a litany of inane comments about moose (or was it elk?) hunting. Both parties do it. It’s standard operating procedure. Grab a staffer’s father’s shotgun, and take a walk in the woods with cameras for company. For most politicians, it’s a seasonal stunt.

    But something different happened with the selection of Congressman Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate. Ryan’s an avid bowhunter and fisherman. He’s the kind of guy you would enjoy sitting beside in a duck blind. He’s articulate, young, passionate, and active. He’s been a champion of gun rights, a past chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, and is beloved in the archery industry for his bill to cap excise taxes on individual arrow shafts. To be sure, he looks the part. He looks like one of us.

    Ryan says that he hunts on his farm, over food plots and from a stand. That’s great, and I certainly have spent a lot of fall evenings waiting for the whitetail to come in and feed. It’s no backcountry camp during the elk rut on public land, but I get the feeling Ryan would be at home on a high ridge in the West as he is in a Midwestern woodlot.

    But Ryan’s record on public lands and access leaves much to be desired.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 11, 2012

    Open Country Awards Contest Official Rules 2014-0


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

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 9, 2012

    At Montana Forum, Access to Politicians is the Goal-0


    Access is what we’re all about. That’s why we wanted to partner with the folks at the Public Land and Water Access Association and the Montana Bowhunters Association to help put together the Montana Sportsmen’s Candidate Forum, and everyone is invited to attend.

    The event will be held next Wednesday, August 15, at Petro Hall, on the campus of MSU-Billings, from 5-8 p.m. Randy Newberg, host of On Your Own Adventures; Seth Rogers, with the Montana Bowhunters Association; and our own Andrew McKean will be on hand to make sure that the best questions regarding access, conservation and the future of wildlife management are brought forth.

    You can submit your questions as well at

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 8, 2012

    250 Years Later, King of England Still Controls American Access-7


    Sometime in the 17th or 18th century, before the colonies gathered to form these United States, the lands we now call home were under English rule, commanded by His Majesty, the King of England.

    Back then, the curly-wigged kings did what politicians have done since the creation of politics: They handed out a few favors. Those favors granted ownership of lands throughout the area now known as the mid-Atlantic states. These crown grants gave full ownership and control of the described lands to the holder of the grant.

    But do those grants apply hundreds of years after a ragtag group of militia knocked the red off the coats of the British Army? Apparently, they do.

    This is not a joke.

    [ Read Full Post ]