WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, introduced the Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures (HUNT) Act, a bill to improve hunting and angling access on public lands and grow the outdoor recreation economy. Hunters and anglers alone spend more than $465 million per year in New Mexico, and outdoor recreation as a whole contributes $6.1 billion to the state’s economy.
"Sportsmen say their number one concern is the lack of access to our public lands across the West. The HUNT Act will open up these areas to hunting and fishing and grow our thriving outdoor recreation economy in the process,” said Sen. Heinrich. “Hunting and fishing are a way of life for millions of Americans. As an avid hunter, I remain deeply committed to preserving our outdoor heritage for my children, and for future generations."
The HUNT Act would require federal land management agencies to identify public lands that lack public access routes, develop a plan to provide access routes to those lands that have significant potential for recreational use, and direct 1.5 percent in funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund each year to purchase road and trail easements and rights-of-way from willing sellers who own private land adjacent to inaccessible public lands.
The bill would also require public land agencies to identify roads that act as primary access routes for lands under their management, which will help the counties and states that manage these roads to make more informed decisions about maintenance and closures.
Local and national sportsmen groups are hailing the HUNT Act as a way to maintain and expand access to the public lands that provide key fish and wildlife habitat and offer unequaled opportunities for hunting and fishing.
"Loss of access is the No. 1 reason sportsmen stop pursuing the traditions we cherish," said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. "Senator Heinrich's HUNT Act addresses the problem of declining access in America by eliminating a major obstacle to our ability to recreate on publicly owned lands and waters. Forward-thinking efforts like his deserve our support. We welcome the opportunity to work with the senator to implement measures that enable everyone's enjoyment of our nation's treasured landscapes."
"When Americans get outside, it directly benefits people, communities and business," said Frank Hugelmeyer, President and CEO of Outdoor Industry Association. "I applaud Sen. Heinrich for introducing legislation that reinforces the importance of outdoor recreation to the economy and improves access for all Americans who enjoy hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation."
"This is a landmark bill for everyone who loves the outdoors. Public lands are overwhelmingly where New Mexico families go to hunt, fish, hike and camp out," said Jeremy Vesbach, director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. "We are excited to see Senator Heinrich continue to take the initiative to re-open landlocked public lands for all of us."
The HUNT Act is supported by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance, Trout Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Southwest Consolidated Sportsmen, and Outdoor Industry Association
The text of the bill can be found here.
The HUNT Act Fact Sheet can be found here.