WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich's (D-N.M.) bill to improve hunting and fishing access on public lands received a key hearing in the Public Lands, Forests, and Mining Subcommittee.
The Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures (HUNT) Act, introduced by Senator Heinrich last September, would unlock countless public lands in New Mexico 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.
"The number one issue for sportsmen across the West is access. The HUNT Act will open more areas to hunting and fishing and grow New Mexico's thriving outdoor recreation economy where recreation activities are directly responsible for 68,000 jobs in the state," said Sen. Heinrich. "Hunting and fishing are a way of life for New Mexicans. As an avid hunter myself, I remain deeply committed to preserving our outdoor heritage and treasured public lands for future generations to enjoy."
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. The American Wildlife Conservation Partners, a coalition of sportsmen and conservation groups, today sent a letter to Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair and Ranking Member expressing their support for the HUNT Act. In the letter they wrote that Senator Heinrich's bill would be a "sensible step toward providing America's hunters and anglers needed access to landlocked public lands."
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 (LWCF) each year to purchase road and trail easements and rights-of-way from willing sellers who own private land adjacent to inaccessible public lands.
In a statement of support, a group New Mexico outdoor recreation organizations wrote, "The sportsmen and women of New Mexico need reliable access to the lands on which we hunt, fish and camp so we can feed our families and pass our traditions to our children and grandchildren. The HUNT Act is a win-win-win."
Joint sportsmen support testimony for the HUNT Act is available here.
HUNT Act text is available here.
HUNT Act Fact Sheet is available here.