April 18, 2013
Maryland Approves Angler Access Laws for Bridges and Roadways - 0
by Tony Hansen
There are times when politicians agree. It usually takes something so obviously positive that it cannot be denied. Such is the case with Maryland's angler access legislation which was signed into law by Governor Martin O'Malley on April 9.
The bill requires that state and local transportation departments to provide "reasonable and cost-effective" access to lakes, rivers and streams in all future roadway construction projects -- including repairs to existing points of potential access.
In every state there is a spiderweb of roads, many of which cross rivers and streams. Many anglers consider these road crossings to be public access points. Laws are sticky to say the least as to whether that is, in fact, true. In some states, bridges and roads are considered legal access points to public waterways. In others, it's not so clear.
In Maryland, however, there is no debate: Public roads and bridges can be used as access points to public waterways. Trouble is, many of those bridges and roadside accesses were constructed in such a manner that getting yourself to the water requires some measure of acrobatics and bravery.
And if you happen to be toting a kayak or canoe? Forget about it.
How could three state representatives oppose such a package?
Hey, this is politics. There's no such thing as "total" common sense.
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.