KICKED OUT

Field and Stream - - ON THE COVER -

WHY SHOULDN’T STATES TAKE CON­TROL OF FED­ERAL PUB­LIC LANDS? THIS CHART SHOWS HOW STATES AL­READY BOOT SPORTS­MEN OFF AR­EAS THEY MAN­AGE. NO ONE KNOWS THE TERMS OF FU­TURE TRANS­FERS, BUT IF THE PAST IS A GUIDE, PUB­LIC HUNT­ING AND FISH­ING AC­CESS WILL BE LOST

THE FEDS ONCE MAN­AGED EV­ERY­THING.

Through the Louisiana Pur­chase, the Mex­i­can Ces­sion, and other such agree­ments, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment ac­quired all U.S. West­ern ter­ri­tory, to­tal­ing about 1.8 bil­lion acres. The feds man­age what re­mains of this land for mul­ti­ple use, balanc­ing re­cre­ation, in­dus­try, and wildlife and re­source pro­tec­tion.

THEN THE FEDS GAVE LANDS TO STATES.

As West­ern states en­tered the Union, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment granted them lands to help fi­nance pub­lic schools and in­sti­tu­tions. These lands are held in pub­lic trusts and must gen­er­ate rev­enue for the states. States make a profit off these lands in one of two ways:

STATES LEASE THE LANDS.

Tim­ber, min­ing, live­stock, oil, and gas com­pa­nies pay for the rights to use pub­lic-trust lands, gen­er­at­ing money for states. Though still in the pub­lic trust, leased lands cre­ate prob­lems for an­i­mals, the en­vi­ron­ment, and sports­men.

STATES LIQUIDATE THE LAND.

Sell­ing land out­right af­fords states a fast way to make money. States auc­tion cer­tain parcels for many rea­sons, in­clud­ing per­ceived buyer in­ter­est, but it all comes down to cash. What does this mean for sports­men?

LANDS LOSE VALUE.

The en­ergy, min­eral, and tim­ber in­dus­tries are all sub­ject to boom-and­bust cy­cles. When de­mand drops, the lands lose leas­ing po­ten­tial. These in­dus­tries can also im­pact re­source qual­ity, mak­ing lands un­de­sir­able for fu­ture leas­ing or de­vel­op­ment.

UPKEEP IS TOO EX­PEN­SIVE.

When lands are no longer prof­itable, states can’t or won’t cover the costs of man­ag­ing them. And if in­dus­tries go bust, states must bear the land-recla­ma­tion costs, an­other in­cen­tive to cash out.

WILDLIFE IS AT RISK.

De­vel­op­ment can dis­place wildlife. Parcels sold in re­cent years have in­cluded choice elk, pronghorn, mule deer, and up­land bird habi­tat.

STATES LIMIT AC­CESS.

West­ern states— un­like the feds, who also lease prop­erty for gas and oil de­vel­op­ment—do not have to man­age their lands for mul­ti­ple use, which means they can boot you, and of­ten do. If states do per­mit ac­cess, they of­ten charge fees and re­strict hunt­ing. (See “Ground Rules.”)

SOLD!

To­day, large cor­po­ra­tions are buy­ing up much of the avail­able pub­lic-trust lands, up­root­ing wildlife and cut­ting off sports­men and the pub­lic.

AC­CESS DE­NIED!

Once sold, lands are off-lim­its, and if they’re leased, hunt­ing and fish­ing is of­ten re­stricted. Leg­is­la­tors have touted the trust model’s suc­cess, so there’s lit­tle rea­son to think states wouldn’t cash in on our na­tional lands.

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