Report re Millions of Western Public Lands off limits to recreation

November 25, 2013

 Western Priorities issued a report on November 25, 2013, "Millions of Western Public Lands Are Off Limits."  To read the report, click on the link below this press release.

*For immediate release*
NOVEMBER 25, 2013

     *Millions of Acres of Western Public Lands are Off-Limits*
*Shuttered public lands hurt the West’s outdoor recreation economy*

DENVER – More than four million acres of public lands in the West—roughly
the size of New Jersey—are inaccessible to the public as a result of land
ownership patterns, absent entry points, and a failure to remove barriers
to entry, according to a new report by the Center for Western Priorities.
These shuttered lands reduce opportunities for outdoor recreation in
Western states, and stymie nearby communities from reaping the employment
opportunities and economic benefits these lands provide.

“We have extraordinary public lands that the public can’t even set foot on,
let alone use for hunting, fishing, or camping, the activities that are
synonymous with our beloved public lands,” said Center for Western
Priorities’ Trevor Kincaid. “Keeping people locked out of the land they own
is like letting a ’57 Corvette rust in your backyard. Just a waste.”

The first-of-its-kind analysis was completed by CWP using GIS mapping
technology to quantify the amount of inaccessible public lands in Colorado,
Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. CWP was able to provide
state-by-state and total acreage for the Western region it reviewed.
  Colorado 540,539 Inaccessible Acres  Idaho 163,314 Inaccessible Acres
Montana 1,955,145 Inaccessible Acres  New Mexico 542,090 Inaccessible Acres
Utah 197,014 Inaccessible Acres  Wyoming 758,142 Inaccessible Acres

Public lands are inaccessible for a variety of reasons. The quilt of land
owners—federal, state, local, tribal, and private—can make it difficult to
access public lands without trespassing. Lands may be completely surrounded
by private lands. There may be a public road running through private
property, which has been closed off. Some landowners have even been known
to illegally fence off public roads, shutting out the public from crossing
onto public lands.

The report points to tools available for the federal government to enhance
access onto public lands. These include the Land and Water Conservation
Fund—a critical source of funding for conservation which Congress
chronically underfunds—along with the HUNT Act legislation proposed by
Senator Martin Heinrich, D-NM, to reduce the number of inaccessible acres.

“This is not an insurmountable access obstacle,” said CWP's Policy Director
Greg Zimmerman. “There are viable, common sense solutions available at our
fingertips that will open the gates to four million acres of treasured
public space. People are clamoring for outdoor playgrounds to explore and
enjoy, the government shutdown showed us that, so we would be smart to heed
that call and expand the places the public can enjoy.”

Open and accessible public lands are essential to hunting, fishing and
outdoor recreation in the West, and the economic activity they derive.
Examples of inaccessible public lands include the Sabinoso Wilderness and
the Cowboy Springs Wilderness Study Area in New Mexico and the
Fortification Creek Wilderness Study Area in Wyoming.
 Here  is the link to the report:

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