Below is a letter that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation co-signed along with other groups requesting federal agencies to supply funding to maintain, create and improve public access for hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts across the country.
The Honorable Shaun Donovan
Office of Management & Budget
1650 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20503
The Honorable Sally Jewell
Secretary of the Interior
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240
The Honorable Tom Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20250
November 12, 2014
Dear Director Donovan, Secretary Jewell and Secretary Vilsack:
The undersigned organizations represent hunters and recreation enthusiasts across the United States who are united in seeking your continuing help to open and improve access to public lands for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting through the continuation of "Sportsmen/Recreation Access" funding within the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in FY2016. This important budget item would dedicate a small portion of LWCF to projects that open recreational access to existing Federal land that is de facto inaccessible to the public.
This programmatic budget proposal has had wide support in the Congress, as it has previously been included in both chambers' appropriations bills, is the focus of bipartisan stand-alone legislation, the Making Public Lands Public Access Act, and is part of a larger Sportsmen's bill.
Both the Forest Service and the BLM included $2,000,000 for recreational access in the President's budget in FY2015, which our community strongly supported. Previous appropriations for this line item have achieved great successes: 80,000 acres of elk/deer habitat now accessible on Cross Mountain in Colorado (BLM); fishable stream miles increased 25% on the premier Yampa River section just below Stagecoach Reservoir, Colorado (BLM/FS); 42-mile stretch of the John Day River, Oregon opened to rafters for angling and hunting trips under a proposed acquisition (BLM).
We urge you to increase this funding line to $6 million for each agency, FS and BLM. The funds are being spend well and obligated quickly:
- Half of all hunters conduct a portion of their hunting activity on public lands. Lack of access is cited as the primary reason that hunters, anglers and target shooters stop participating in these traditional activities.
- Opening access to the public lands is not only vital to preserving America’s sporting heritage, but it will also serve to benefit the economy. Sportsmen and women spend millions of dollars on their outdoor pursuits. Additionally, excise taxes on fishing, hunting, shooting equipment and motorboat fuel as well as fees for licenses and stamps are all dedicated to state fish and wildlife management programs.
- Coupled with the generous support of conservation organizations, this generates nearly $3 billion a year for conservation efforts.
Thank you for your consideration of this request and for your service on behalf of
America’s hunting and fishing conservation community.