Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in outdoor and travel markets. A former small-town newspaper editor and reporter, she constantly hunts for news headlines you need to read. Barbara also publishes Women’s Outdoor News online and pens columns for the National Wild Turkey Federation and Shooting Sports USA. Hailing from the Ozarks of Missouri, this avid hunter is now mentoring the second generation of hunters - her own little bevy of Realtree-wearing grandchildren.
HUNT: A Good Four-Letter Word
It’s our land. We just cannot get on it to hunt or fish.
Last week, Rep. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico introduced the Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures Act (HUNT Act). The act first instructs federal agencies to inventory all public lands that are greater than 640 acres and that allow hunting and fishing, but that are difficult to or have no access.
Another important piece of the legislation mandates that federal managers must list all routes leading to these aforementioned public lands and publish these access routes on websites. To that, I say, “Eureka! Get out your GPS!”
It then recommends financing land acquisitions for right-of-ways and access points from private property owners, funded by 1.5 percent of Land and Water Conservation Funds. These funds come from offshore oil and gas leasing taxes.
It is a step in the right direction for providing more access to our national treasures. However, it seems like someone was searching for a word that started with "u" and chose "unrestricted." There is never hunting without restrictions -- as it should be. I give Rep. Heinrich an "A" for creative effort with that one.
We, as hunters, understand the importance of conservation on these vast lands. If this act passes, we should see hunting and fishing in public places where there previously had been none, solely because no one could get there. Hopefully, we also will see the effects of an economic boost to rural communities near these properties.
In the past week, many outdoor organizations and individuals have made their voices heard in support of this act. You should, too.
In fact, you can track this bill here.