I’m a hunter and National Rifle Association life member. And like over 70 percent of hunters in the western U.S., I hunt public lands. Hence, it’s of great concern to me that less than two days into the 115th Congress, the House of Representatives (including U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton) voted to give away America’s public lands and waters, recalculating the costs of public lands transfers and easing current restrictions for shifting their oversight to individual states or private interests.
“As the 115th Congress enters its first week, some of our elected officials are wasting no time in paving the way to steal our outdoor heritage,” said Backcountry Hunters and Anglers president and CEO Land Tawney. “Buried in a litany of other measures is language ... that would make it easier to give away America’s public lands. For sportsmen, this provision sticks out like a sore thumb. If it’s a fight they want, they’ve got one coming – and I’m betting on public lands hunters and anglers.”
Steven Rinella (author, hunter and host of the Sportsman Channel’s “Meateater”) called the idea of land transfers “downright stupid ... this will lead to more gates, more industrial disturbance, and less wildlife. However, we’re also encouraged that President-elect Trump, along with some courageous House and Senate Republicans, has broken from the party on this issue.”
In the words of Randy Newberg, host of “Fresh Tracks with Randy Newberg” (also on the Sportsman Channel): “I’m not an ‘R’ or ‘D.’ I don’t belong to any party. Well, I do have a party; it’s the party of hunting, fishing and public access. Mess with that and I will direct the focus of my platforms your direction. If that pressure surprises politicians, then they’ve mistaken me for someone who cares about their political party crap.”
I couldn’t have said it better.
David Lien is chairman of Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.