Public Lands Access

Having a place to hunt and fish is the biggest problem facing sportsmen, and public lands is the solution.


Key Facts:

  • Nearly 5 million hunters use public lands as their main hunting grounds.
  • Among urban hunters, 45 percent rely on public hunting land.
  • The Department of the Interior manages 500 million acres of surface land, or about one-fifth of the land in the United States.

Public lands are vital to hunting, fishing and shooting.

According to the most recent figures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, nearly 40 percent of hunters use public land, and 20 percent have problems accessing land. But public lands are constantly under threat.

Many sportsmen feel they are being denied access to public lands because private landowners have purchased lands surrounding state or federal lands, which effectively cuts off all access by others. Other challenges, such as balancing development with sporting need are a constant struggle on the state and federal level.

Many lands within the Department of the Interior are managed by agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (which operates the National Wildlife Refuge System) and the National Parks Service. All of these agencies regulate shooting, hunting, and fishing on their lands, as well as manage them for other purposes, like other outdoor recreation and development.

Sportsmen face constant infringements to their access to quality habitat on public lands. Issues such as the Roadless Rule, which preserves habitat through not allowing the creation or maintenance of new road building, is just one example of the constant struggle we face to ensure our public lands remain areas where we can pursue hunting, fishing, and shooting for generations to come. Not to mention the larger issue of selling off our public lands and shrinking the amount of pristine lands available to sportsmen.