What happens when a state game commission blatantly works against the rights of sportsmen and women who help fund it?
Let's look to New Mexico where another question is being asked:May a private landowner exclude others from fishing in a public stream that flows across the landowner's property?And now, the answer:No. A private landowner cannot prevent persons from fishing a public stream that flows across the landowner's property, provided the public stream is accessible without trespass privately owned adjacent lands.It is an answer so clear and free from ambiguity that it's hard to believe it was written by attorney.
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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.
It’s not every day that you get an invitation to spend time with a Cabinet member. But last month, I got the chance to talk with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell about conservation, access, and the imperative to bring new folks into our hunting and fishing ranks.
Here are some highlights of the conversation, which included folks from Boone & Crockett Club, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Montana Wildlife Federation, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, and Trout Unlimited.
We first discussed the importance of access to public lands. RMEF's David Allen spoke of the need to ensure that the Land & Water Conservation Fund was reauthorized and fully funded. He thanked Secretary Jewell for the President’s budget, which for the first time, includes full funding for the LWCF. That’s $900 million from offshore oil and gas leasing, not tax dollars. All of the groups around the table understand what the LWCF does for hunters and anglers. Nobody balked when the Secretary asked for help getting the President’s budget implemented as it relates to the LWCF.
Spoilage. Remember that word from high school economics class? Spoilage refers to the goods or services we have but couldn’t or didn’t consume before they expired: the airplane that leaves the ground with empty seats or the hotel that lets a night pass with vacant rooms. It’s waste, like brown bananas in the produce aisle.
The access problem in the outdoors is caused by spoilage, not a lack of acres. I propose we call the problem “Latent Access,” and that we get busy fixing it.
“Access to quality hunting and fishing ground is the most significant challenge facing the future of hunting,” says Doug Saunders, VP of Marketing for the National Wild Turkey Federation. “Organizations like ours and government agencies can only do so much. The largest impact needs to come from private individuals sharing their access.”
Would private landowners grant hunting and fishing access more readily if they weren’t legally liable for the health and safety of their gun- and rod-wielding visitors?
In discussions of expanding access around the country, you hear this a lot: that legal liability is a big impediment to recreational access. But a review of case law indicates that it’s almost always a non-issue.
That’s the conclusion of Dr. Brett Wright, a professor of parks, recreation, and tourism management at Clemson University. He told attendees at last month’s North American Whitetail Summit that access for hunting remains a complex issue, but that liability exposure to landowners is more “myth than reality.”
Eric Dinger is like most of us: he wishes he had more places to hunt and fish.
But unlike most of us, who complain about access the same way we grumble about the weather, Dinger is working to find himself—and you—a spot to cast a line or swing a shotgun. Dinger is the CEO of Powderhook, a new online access brokerage based in Lincoln, Neb., that just may change the entire conversation about recreational access in America.
Powderhook is essentially a social search engine, but unlike Facebook or Instagram, which trade in non-consumables like photographs or gossip, Dinger’s site aims to connect those of us who have access with those of us who do not. It’s a marketplace, like Airbnb.com or Expedia.com, but for places to hunt or fish.
I have often wondered what the world was like before the days of the electronic media release.
I suspect there was much of the same with one difference: The barrage of releases cluttered up actual mailboxes instead of those of the virtual variety.
That said, there are times when one of those releases contains information I'm actually interested in. One such release made its way to my inbox from New York City (of all places).
The release highlighted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's list of proposed projects designed to increase and improve public access. But the item that caught my eye might not be the one that you’d expect.
The president recently unveiled his new budget for 2015. For hunters and anglers, it’s a good-news-bad-news scenario. Some things make perfect sense while others will leave you scratching your head.
Either way, the president’s budget is a starting place, when it comes to protecting access and investing in America’s public lands.
The Good LWCF: The president has included full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. LWCF helps pay for fishing access sites, boat ramps, and protecting key habitat, using royalties that oil companies pay for offshore oil drilling. LWCF has given American hunters and anglers some premier spots for chasing big game. Places like the Tenderfoot Acquisition in Montana, the Silvio E. Conte National Wildlife Refuge in New England, and inholdings in the Tahoe National Forest in California.
In 2013, Montana State Representative Tom Jacobson saw through the passage of House Bill 444, legislation that created the “Unlocking State Lands” program that provides a $500 tax credit to private landowners who allow public hunting and fishing access to their lands.
A landowner is allowed to enter into four such contracts per year for a total of $2,000.
The program is currently in its initial enrollment period and landowners have until March 15 to submit applications.
In a media release, program coordinator Alan Charles said: "The concept of offering a tax credit in exchange for public access across private land to reach state land is a first of its kind in the nation, as far as we've been able to determine.”