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Access Denied- Your Public Lands

newsletter 3 16 access deniedThis whole mess with people crying out for federal public land to be transferred to the states has me really scratching my head. I will never be one who supports the vast bureaucracy that we currently have at the federal level because I am a firm believer that government should be as small as possible. However, I really think this is one issue where we should be careful what we ask for or we might just get it.

Some state government agencies and practices aren’t great for the average middle-class hunter who uses public land regularly. State land agencies have far different mandates than what the Forest Service and the BLM have. The mandates that the state agencies operate under for State Trust Land are completely different and designed to prop up state budgets. Those mandates are not for public access and in many cases public access is the low man on the totem pole because there is negligible revenue to be made from public access on these small parcels. With those mandates in mind how much would access or conservation change when the state manages the lands currently under federal management?

In Wyoming our state economy lives and dies by mineral extraction in one form or another. In tough budget years like what we are currently facing it quickly turns into an all hands on deck effort to stop the bleeding. Budget cuts will be made and it won’t take long for the recently transferred land to look like a giant slush fund that can pay for immediate state government needs with land sales.

Think I’m crazy? It is already happening in parts of the West. In Oregon the Elliott State Park is on the selling block because the state needs money to fund schooling. This isn’t a small parcel, this is 84,000 acres that is currently available for the public to use. The state wants it in writing that the buyer would maintain public access but only if there is a buyer who is able to provide that. The park has generated revenue for local schools through logging but in recent years it hasn’t been the cash cow it once was.

The next problem that we have to contend with is a perception that state government agencies are not corruptible because they answer to locals. For instance, the Utah DWR has come under a lot of scrutiny in recent months about the allotment of 200 of the best big game tags the state has to offer for the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo. Based on the reports it sounds like this will be a long-fought battle and hunters in the state of Utah aren’t likely to give up on their case. No one has been tried for a crime but the real question is how long and how much money will it take to sort this one out? Could land sale deals lead to questionable practices?

Many people from outside of the West have asked “How does this really affect me?” Well, Wyoming already has rules in place that limit non-residents from hunting in Wilderness Areas. This goes back to mandates, every state will be mandated with their own sets of rules and regulations to benefit the residents of the own state. I will let your mind wander on the types of regulations that might come about with land transfer.

So I ask you this, would we simply be trading one set of problems for an even worse set of problems with the State’s managing or selling the land? Leave a comment below with your thoughts on these very complex issues. I’ll put in my two cents and respond as warranted.


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About Guy Eastman, Editor-In-Chief

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Following in the footsteps of his father, Guy has taken up the reins and is now at the helm of the Eastmans’ Hunting Journal and the Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal. A fine hunter in his own right, Guy has taken several trophy animals and has become an expert in trophy hunting as well.

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  1. Guy is spot on, I do not want to see any federal lands transfered to the states. The land transfers will only lead to sales and denied public access.

    • I agree 100%. We do not need the state to manage or we will lose more rights.

    • General Comment – No need for federal or state oversight – consider a couple of committees composed of a few elected official, a couple of egg heads from outdoor related academicians, forestry and mineral folks, outdoor clubs like Wild Turkey people, Ducks Unlimited etc without getting too bulky. With leadership provided by election by hunting and fishing license holders (must hold current license to vote – NO exceptions). Let them manage land and water resources on 5 year board term, one second term total of 10 years total service. If compensated there will be no follow on monies or benefits, none! Don’t worry about getting good people on those terms, there will be plenty of dedicated outdoors-men / women willing to serve on those terms. At least start talking about independent boards to manage our national resources, This is too important to be left to career politicians.

  2. Public Land Hunter

    To me, it’s not an issue of state vs. federal land ownership. The issue at hand is much bigger than something so simple. To reduce it to the simplest of terms, the issue is “big government”. Our government (local, state, and federal) has just gotten too big, and it is unsustainable. We can’t just keep spending and spending on newer or expanded functions of the government like we have for decades.

    It seems that no matter whom we elect, they just keep spending. Only when we can change our spending habits are our public lands safe. Even if the federal government retains ownership, it is only a matter of time until the folks in DC decide that our public lands look like a giant slush fund that can pay for immediate federal government needs with land sales. Right now, we are still able to borrow money as a nation, and we are drunk on spending. All it will take is for the supply of borrowed money to slow down, and those public lands will suddenly be seen by those in DC as a source for more money.

    I really don’t give the state vs. federal land ownership argument much thought, as it is a symptom of a much bigger problem. I suggest that, instead of looking at the public land issue as an isolated issue, we public land hunters instead look at our country’s spending problem, and focus on that. We have got to find a way to force DC to stop spending money we have to borrow! Until we do so, the land we all cherish is ALWAYS in jeopardy of going on the auction block, regardless of which government entity owns it!

    • Public Land Hunter. It does make a difference who owns it. The states have a mandate to generate revenue generally for their school systems. In new mexico, the state has sold off 1/3 of it’s 13 million it received since statehood. and there is almost no sportsman or recreational access. No camping, and only get to scout 3 days prior. Our current commissioner almost shut us out altogether.

      • You and Public Land Hunter are both right. It does matter who owns the land, but eventually our elected federal representatives will see public lands as a cash cow. Congressmen and Senators will be more than happy to sell these lands in exchange for campaign contributions. Did you ever wonder why smart businessmen spend millions to get elected to a position which currently pays $174,000.

    • George Bogenschutz

      You are right on! To my way of thinking the only solution to our spending problems is term limits on the D.C. congress. I would favor (1) 6 year term for either house and they are done! No re-election promises, no lobbiest favors owed, and no CAREER POLITICIANS!!!
      We have term limits here in S.Dakota and I love it, the politicians don’t – T.S.

      • Congress has been exempted from term limits by the Supreme Court, in a case back around 1992-93 ?, their suggestion was that the term limit was the vote.

    • Spot on! Our federal government is out of control. Currently the f’ed is denying all access to “public” land after the tourists leave my state each fall. I’ve had enough. Return Alaska to its residents.

  3. Larry Gaalswyk

    I empathize with your position Guy but it is bigger then your perspective. If you think the state governments may sell this land to private owners and thereby limit access, do you really trust that the federal government won’t sell it even to foreign identities including foreign governments. Hasn’t the federal government shown you yet that they are less trustworthy then state and local government?

    Public Land Hunter is right on about this countries’ spending habits and if we put our faith in a big federal government to keep things the way they have been, we are delusional at best. Smaller federal government and far less spending or this life we love in America is over including our hunting heritage on public lands.

    We need to hope our debt to China is not resolved by giving them a big piece of MT / WY called Yellowstone National Park! I would rather have you Guy, be a part of a local or state government making decisions on the future of our public lands then ANYONE from WA DC!


    • So you think when the state needs money and they decide to sell off our public lands they will care if the buyer is from China? I assure you the states dont have the money to manage these lands and will be looking to sell.

    • That is ridiculous right wing propoganda. Name one acre of national forest land the federal government has sold to china or any other country in the last 100 years?

      yet right now we have states selling to the highest bidder.

      • Amen, rediculous propaganda there isn’t an argument. Look at all the states that were given state trust land vs how many acres they have left some have less than half of what they were given or right at it. The federal govt has a much better record of keeping land than the states, the right which is mostly made up of money hungry oil or ranch conglomerates that throw money at this issue while they are licking their chops to be the first bidder in line. It’s disgraceful really

    • If we stop the federal government from selling public land to anyone, states or foreign entities, then we have solved this problem. If your fear of the feds selling public land to China is solved by selling that land to the states, then we will have potentially created 50 new landowners to be concern with selling off that public land. Yes, I know we are only talking about the Western states but maybe New York would like to purchase a chunk of California to prop up their state employee’s pension funds.

    • dale petersen

      I AGREE !The feds have done nothing but shut everything down,more all the time! Ihave been to all the meetings and all I did was waste my time.they did just what they wanted from day one!

  4. I do not want ANY public land transferred to the states for any reason ! They would just sell out cheap to the first scum bags developers & other big money $ interests & fat cats who would end ALL public access & hunting & fishing. The big game auction permits— like Utahs mess for the rich— is outrageous & is a good example of how not to do it. Same thing for Wyomings Wilderness Guide Law— pure rip off & totally useless. Except to make money for outfitters in the Jackson area. Another outrage, the sale of Special Permits by the states thru the 501C(3) Non Profit Fiascos—- all that is simply allowing rich guys access to B & C Quality Trophies (legalized poaching) for Book Listing & getting a tax deduction too— B & C Club is the instigator by allowing it. Should not be allowed ever— I think Arizona started that mess in 1990, & others jumped on the gravy train. Now I ask— where is YOUR Special Permit hiding ? In the pocket of a rich jerk milking the system & manipulating those that run the systems!!!! P O ‘ D Public Land Hunter in Wyoming— Almost 70 now & Disgusted by Our Governments !!

  5. Transferring federal land to the states would be a disaster for all kinds of outdoor recreation including hunting. We must ALL unite to stop this movement in its tracks!! No room for waffling here.

  6. Dennis Thompson

    Hey Guy, IF the states would inherit this land AND given to a competant bioligist to oversee,
    And given full authority to manage all wildlife
    – I wouldnt have an issue with this
    However with our elected officals at the federal and state levels just jumping the gun
    Without thinking things thru to save a buck or their fellow politions job, I dont see a good outcome

  7. I am also against ANY PUBLIC LAND transferred to the states, for ANY reason. I live in Colorado and the National Forests, BLM lands and National Parks and Monuments are for ALL to enjoy, not just those who happen to reside in a particular state. The individual western states are just looking for a cash windfall and will sell to the likes of the Koch brothers in a heartbeat. I repeat myself once again, the FEDERAL LAND system is for ALL to enjoy, not just a select few.

    Guy – your state congressmen are proposing this as well. You need to contact them and tell them this is a very bad idea.

    • I already contacted our Wyoming representatives on this issue. I got an e-mail back from each stating how the transfer of Federal land to the State of Wyoming is best for all Wyoming citizens. What they really meant was that the transfer was best for the wealthy ranchers/outfitters/mineral extraction/oil & gas and developers/realtors. You know…the average citizens that contribute millions to their campaigns. Wyoming couldn’t afford to fight any forest fires or maintain those lands. From what I’ve seen personally, the State land lease holders are no “stewards” of the lands either.
      Wyoming is selling off two sections in Grand Teton park that we own. The grazing fees collected on those 2 sections comes to $1,800.00 a year! Whoop-de-doo.
      The Feds should also charge much higher grazing fees than the current $1.35 per cow & calf per month. It costs twice as much to manage the grazing program than it collects from the welfare ranchers.

      • The two State Lands parcels in Grand Teton National Park are being negotiated for sale to the National Park Service. This has been well covered in Wyoming & regional media sources.

  8. I agree whole heartedly. There needs to be some changes on the federal level that would put some common sense back into wild land management. If the states got a hold of public land there would be a fire auction of those lands to the rich top few percent and international corporations and the public land hunter would be left out in the cold.

  9. The people trying to do this want to get their hands on the land to develop or sell,not for our use..Leave it fed and we’ll have ground forever.

  10. Washington Hunter

    Totally agree, it seems like every time the state buys a piece of ground it deteriorates in just a few years. Can’t even imagine what they would do if they got their hands on large tracts of national forest ground. I am relatively certain they would charge additional fees to access the ground and claim they need it for upkeep and maitenace which they don’t do.

  11. There are many topics to hate on the federal government but this is not one of them. Our public lands are not safe in the hands of the states. Look up what it costs to fight one good fire and you can see the state would be broke trying to manage these lands. They will have to sell mineral rights, logging rights, and even the land. You can ask if they are safe in the hands of the feds but to me they have done a pretty good job at assuring I have plenty of land to roam.

  12. As much as I’d like things to stay the same, they seldom do. I live in Oklahoma, a state which has very little public lands compared to your western states. It is very difficult to find a place to hunt. I’ve hunted some out west and have plans to take my son out west and have been buying preference points, but I’m afraid it’s all for nothing. We’re headed for all public lands being sold or transferred. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have both supported plans to sell federal lands and this movement is gaining momentum. All the mess the Bundy people have created have only hurt hunters as well. Hunting is taking a turn towards a purely elitist activity. It makes me sad, but it’s the painful truth. All for the sake of oil, cattle ranching, guided hunting or large scale corporate farms. I really hope I’m wrong and things get better and my children’s generation gets to enjoy this beautiful country, but I’ll believe it when I see it. This is just one of many problems facing our country. Hunters, conservationists and those of high moral fiber need to get involved in the political process or we’re headed down a dark path.

  13. Wisconsin is selling state land. Some legislators here though would like to see the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest transfered to the state. I don’t think land conservation and hunting access is why they want it! Also, the USFS, BLM and NPS don’t “own” any land. The citizens of America own it. These agencies only manage it accordingly to their policies.

    • terry l schramm

      “THEY DON’T OWN THE LAND” tell that to the agencies. Federal control is what gave us the E.S.A. and N.E.P.A. The forest service has shut down countless miles of access for habitat protection for grizzly bears etc. They arrogantly gave us the wolf with it’s protected status to the point where wolves and bears have more rights than people. what good is access to public lands for sportsmen, if there isn’t anything to hunt? Local control is best as we can vote out our elected officials. We don’t have the luxury of voting for the officials of N.Y. and California that can control federal policy.

  14. Biggest mistake made in our Western Heritage. WY State Lands DON’T allow CAMPING on them, among other things. Sold to the highest bidder – might as well start calling us the “surfs”.

  15. Prior to a hunting season in Oregon, I came across a no trespassing sign on an ancient jeep trail. I had used this road for years to access 100 sq miles or so of BLM land. I also knew there was private land there, but only a ribbon of 1/2 mile or so to cross.
    So I beat cleats to the local BLM office. They told me that there is a state law that states, yearly road maintenance by federal agency needs to be done to allow public ingress/egress.
    My complaint was noted, and I was told enforcement would check it out. Five years later, no change, except for a real fancy no trespassing sign with photo enforced by video etc. messages.
    This landowner has taken claim to public land with the nod of state law, if true.
    I do not have the resources to validate this law.
    I just wonder how this scenario works in other western states.

    • Jack…Our biggest issue is lack of access to state lands. WE can’t camp on it and can only access it to scout a few days prior. Many of the grazing lessees on this land lock the gates all the time, and we are shut out. Although there are parcels of public land that have access issues, it’s caused by landowners who usually want to hoard it for their own hunting clients. But….by far the federal land has easier access than the state.

    • Jack, we had the exact same thing here in my area in Montana. An outsider named Letica(check out the bottom of a five gallon plastic bucket, he makes more than half of them in the world) came in bought a few thousand acres and shut down some major forest service access. Nobody did anything for twenty years. About four years ago a couple locals started a petition, got a few hundred signatures and brought it in to our County Attorney. They expressed our feelings of this arrogant, new land owner shutting off public land. He was able to shut it off due to the same pathetic excuse of road maintenance. We pressured the County Attorney(wanna keep your job longer than one term?) and he got it into court and we won. It took over a year, didn’t cost much money(county attorney is free) just some time. Try your County Attorney and pressure him as we did ours. Good luck with your endeavor.


  16. You know who can screw things up worse than the Feds? California!! I would cringe if we lost fed land to our state…..then our soon-to-be extremely liberal Fish and Wildlife Dept can block access to hunting. No Bueno!!!!

  17. The Elliot forest situation really sucks and if you trace the real source of the problem it started with cutting closures started by spotted owl and other critters being listed as endangered and thus closing parcels of land whose timber sale profits were earmarked for school funding. Add the merging of Plum Creek & Weyerhauser timber companies and permit only hunting access and Oregon hunters aint happy. OHA is in the thick of the battle and I believe RMEF is following suit but the squeeze is on

  18. Guy

    As you know about 80% of hunters in the west do so on public lands. That’s about 1.6M hunters last year. Hunting on lands that they have invested billions of dollars into through Pittman Robertson, Habitat Stamps, Dingell, and other conservation programs.

    The state of New Mexico has sold off 1/3 of the original 13 million acres they received at statehood. The mandate for the state is to make a profit for our educational system. Just as it in many other states. Recently our state land commissioner forced a four fold increase in what G&F and thus we as sportsman have to pay to access the land. And it is much more restrictive, no camping, only scout several days in advance etc. He almost shut us out altogether.

    Annually, the outdoor recreation industry accounts for $255B of direct economic activity and 2.3M jobs in the West. Mostly due to our public lands. This creates ultimate 3 times more jobs than the oil and gas industry.

    There are about 18,000 grazing lease permitees in the west paying about 1/4 to 1/2 of what they would on state or private land. Most of them are honest and law abiding citizens. In January, a group of a couple of dozen armed militia took over the Mallette Wildlife refuge, several of them felons, only a handful actually in the ranching industry. A refuge system funded largely on the backs of sportsman through the duck stamp program. These militia sold themselves as representing the grazing permittees, even though only a handful were actually in the ranching industry.

    Ted Cruz and other extremist members of congress supported and condoned the actions of these militia, and this is acting as a springboard for their agenda. here is a quote by Ted Cruz in Idaho last week: “In Texas, only 2% of our lands are public and that’s 2% too much. These lands need to be transferred back to the states, OR BETTER YET, BACK TO PRIVATE HANDS.”

    If you look at who is backing Ted Cruz, it’s big oil and extractive industries. Google it. It’s blatent. A vote for Ted Cruz is a vote to take away your public lands. Think Texas. Believe me, I visit there twice a year, there is no public land and he doesn’t care.

    Unfortunately, the GOP has move far right of where it once was. Teddy Roosevelt was a hunter, a conservationist and a Republican but he understood the value of the outdoors and public lands. The current GOP only understands big city offices or perhaps a private duck club.

    My son is a Range Science major and regularly addresses some of these issues with land management. And it is obvious to him there are things that are holding the federal agencies back from managing the lands: endangered species act, NEPA, no logging etc. However, the states cannot afford to manage this land for the public. It would be sold off once the first big fire comes along and bankrupt the state anyway. Again, their mandate is profit.

    I’ve said enough, but have more. But…bottom line is that if you support any candidate or any movement to transfer land back to the states you are voting against your hunting heritage. That land will be sold off and there are those in the movement who have just that intent.

    Jeff Young
    Sandia Park NM

  19. Anyone who wants to transfer federal lands to the states is either against public land hunting or extremely uninformed on the subject. Imagine Colorado being closed to hunting. Well thatd be reality, because they don’t allow hunting on almost all of their state trust lands. Or look at Utah, they’re auctioning off state trust lands on May 25th….yes this is really happening, Google it! Then there is the anti hunting movement champing at the bit to get the California’s and other liberal states into a less publicized, state-level battle. Teddy R is rolling over in his grave that this is even being considered! Keep this in mind since this is purely a political battle, Cruz is by far the most in favor of selling our lands and Trump and the D’s are on record of not selling. Spread the word, we can’t lose our public lands!

  20. Dave Remillard

    When it comes to the state of Oregon, please don’t let them control land currently overseen by the feds. They can’t control their bladder much less the fish and game in this state. This of course is my humble opinion. Others may disagree.

  21. I hear what you say and somewhat agree, But I can tell you that much of the federal ground I hunted and fished just a few years ago are now behind locked gates and destroyed roads. We are being forced onto less and less ground and with little access to it.

    • Frank…I have not see this in New Mexico. And the times I have been in Colorado….The issue we have here is getting access to state land. We are not allowed to camp on it and have only a few days prior to hunting season to scout. Our current land commissioner almost shut us out altogether. From my perspective, locked gates are generally a good thing because there is better hunting behind those locked gates. Just saying

  22. No profit to the states in selling land transferred from the federal government as the states would receive only 5% of the sale with the federal government receiving the rest. The EPA and USFWS will soon control all land, both private and public through their new rule of protecting habitat for endangered species whether or not a species is currently present. Just the possibility of the land supporting the species in the future is reason enough in the new rule for the federal government to control the land. Waters of the U.S. was seen as devastating and according to the law office of Karen Budd Falen, this new EPA rule is worse. I really wonder what the federal government has ever managed properly. Half our forests in Montana are dead. Environmental litigation consumes 40% of the FS budget. Fire costs are over half of the FS budget. Wildlife is moving from federally managed public land to private causing property damage. Smoke from wildfires is killing people according to the Montana DEQ website. So for all those who cherish access to our federally managed public land, take a good look at how the federal government has destroyed our public lands, closed them, and sold them. For me I want more local control of our public lands.

    • Kerry…I hear what you are saying…however, it’s not the federal land managers who are the problem. Believe me, they want to do their jobs and that is what that got into land management for. I agree with what you have said but believe those are the issues we need to be solving and transferring lands to the state is not the answer. I think what we want is more say so in the decisionmaking while still allowing the land to be in federal control. So attack the environmental regulations and red tape but not the lands. Here in New Mexico, it’s the state land we don’t have access too. We can’t even camp on it and our current commissioner almost shut us out altogether. the State has sold off 1/3 of it’s 14 million acres it got at statehood. But the bigger issue is the wealthy extraction industries that are backing these initiative.

  23. Hunters, specifically gun owners love to cite the 2nd Amendment and throw around the word “Constitution” yet most, including many opining here don’t know the 1st damn thing about it. It is illegal under said Constitution for the Federal Government to own any land outside of 10 square miles of Washington DC…along with Forts, Ports and Posts etc. The BLM, and most federal agencies are completely illegal under the same Constitution that enumerated your Right to Bear Arms. So, all States, (which are made up of the PEOPLE) need to kick the BLM out and reclaim all lands for the people of said states. I love how Gun Owners lament the government as the beast which ever encroaches on our Liberty, but then turns around and begs that very beast to provide them with hunting ground. It is time to GROW UP. Be men. Take back YOUR land in YOUR state and DO NOT ASK THE STATE TO TAKE CARE OF IT. GET OFF YOUR ASS AND DO IT YOURSELF at no expense to the taxpayer. We have forgotten how to BE FREE!

    • Eric….We have done just that having put billions of our own dollars into land acquisitons, improvements, water projects and prescribed burns etc etc over the past 100 years. The majority of our wildlife refuges were purchases and currently operated by sportsman through the duck stamp program. So we have done just that, no thanks to non sportsman. This land really is ours…

      • Jeff, that’s great, you prove the point that we don’t need the federal government. so now, enforce the Constitution and kick the feds out. The County Sheriff has the authority to do so. You don’t need permission from so phony politician. Mandate the sheriff honor his oath, if he won’t, get one that will.

        • I respect the County Sheriff. Have many friends who serve in that position. But, what I was saying is that this land is land that the sportsman bought and paid for. It’s ours. WE should have a say in what happens to it or be compensated for our loss.

          These public lands have been in place for over 100 years.Through many Republican administrations and Republican lead congress. They generate billions of dollars to the western outdoor recreation economy and up to three times as many jobs as the oil and gas industry. The issue is that the GOP has moved further to the right than they ever were or have been. I am a life long Republican and will consider a vote for Trump primarily because he supports public lands. Otherwise, I am voting democrat and I am not alone.

          Last year, 1.6 million hunters did so on public lands. Land that they own. 43M people visited wildlife refuges generating $550M in economic activity. Wildlife Refuge that I and every other sportsman bought and paid for through the duck stamp program.

          I will be honest in saying..in the end, it does not matter to me if the states or the feds sell it off. I am going to hunt and fish that land anyway. It’s mine.

          • You vote for Over-the-Hillary and you can just drop off your guns at the nearest BATFE office on your way home Jeff. She has already stated that she’s declaring war on the NRA and gun owners, you didn’t know that?

          • I will likely vote for Trump. He is pro public lands, and both of his sons are the REAL DEAL in terms of hunters. And is pro second amendment. Regardless, I don’t have a problem with background checks at gun shows since I get back ground checks anyway when I buy them at retail stores. I only own shotguns, rifles and archery equipment so no impact. I honestly believe the biggest impact to our lifestyle is loss of public lands. Not whether or not they make us do a background check. I think the NRA has gone too far.

        • Plenty of case law establishes federal jurisdiction over federal lands. And no, the local sheriff is not the final authority where federal public lands are concerned. That constitutional sheriff nonsense just means “selectively enforcement”. Perfect example how local incompetence would squander the public estate. The good ol boy system at its finest.

    • Bull. The constitution doesn’t say that at all. 200 years of legal precedent notwithstanding.

      • The Congressional Research Service wrote this report concluding the U.S. Constitution DOES allow federal land ownership. Furthermore, Article 21, Section 26 of the Wyoming Constitution states: “The people of this state do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof…” Most western states have exactly the same language in their constitutions. Transfer proponents always try to throw the constitution in your face to intimidate you. Don’t fall for it!


  24. This would be a tragic mistake for all sport or hobby users of public lands whether resident or non-resident. I have contacted legislators at both state and federal levels expressing opposition to this movement, the reply is typically thanks for your interest but our mind is made up, my interpretation of this answer is basically we will represent ourselves and our wealthy contributors so what the average sportsman feels doesn’t really matter. I am going to forward my message to the NRA, elected officials seem to have a little more interest in their opinion, hopefully more folks will contact the NRA as well!

    • With the recent occupation of the Oregon Malheur Bird Refuge, the occupiers from outside the state of Oregon demanded the Feds transfer the refuge to Harney County. Harney County has a population of only 7,000 people and a very limited tax base. With no funds to manage the refuge, the county informed the occupiers that they weren’t interested and preferred the Refuge remain in the Feds’ hands. Thanks to the cooperative efforts of the people of Harney County, the hunters that took a stand and the protests of the Norhwest Steelheaders and Audubon Society the support for the Feds to manage the Refuge was overwhelming!
      Yes, our Elliot State Forest is on the auction block. But a large number of non-timber interests have expressed an interest in working together to purchase this forest and keep it in public hands. Can these groups raise enough money in Oregon and throughout the West to protect our public lands? Stay tuned…

  25. Right on, Art!

  26. I live in california. Right there with you guys. I recently heard the feds took 1.8 millions of acres and declared it a national monument. Most is in the south and desert. We have had our own issues in the north state. Glad to see some of the liberal voters taking away from other liberal voters for once. But it’s has to do with with Agenda 21. I just got back from some state continuing education training and… Let me tel you. Feds set standards for what you can and can’t do. Then the individual states add more restrictions on that. No matter what agency. GOP has been just as bad. Guess I don’t have to tell you who I am voting for.

  27. States don’t have to let non residents in. That is a privilege that can be reserved for citizens of the State. At least the Federal Government is supposed to represent the people and that includes people who are not state residents. As unfair as non-resident hunting is now, I believe it would be worse or non-existent if left to the States.

  28. Just fyi, I am running for the Senate seat of one of the principals behind the movement to transfer public lands to the states, the new CEO of ALC (American Lands Council). I like my public lands in public hands and I oppose her project. I’d appreciate any help … a quick look showed she has $20K in campaign funds and I have no doubt she can tap into a lot more. Campaign donations will be appreciated, or other efforts on the part of interested parties to help my opponent out of her Montana Senate seat Dist #7 (letters to the editor, etc). This is a good opportunity to deal a setback to the unpopular and unwanted transfer public lands movement and it’s small group of leaders.

  29. Nevada has sold off 99.9 percent of its original 2+million acres of public land they were allowed to hand-pick as part of their statehood settlement. Only a few thousand acres are left.

  30. Right on point. Nothing is perfect but federal lands have relatively consistent rules. I live in California and it would be a complete disaster if the state took over federal public properties. We have it pretty darn good in the USA when it comes to fair access compared to other countries.

  31. I have said for years that anytime quotas are put on for non residents license on federal lands they should also do the same for residents. We all own them equally. We all pay federal income tax on wages and the land is controlled by federal employees who we all pay thier wages.

    • That’s true Randy, the Federal government (we the people) own the land. But in Wyoming, the citizens of Wyoming own the wildlife. So, non residents can come to hike and take in natures beauty and that’s about it. Wyoming sets rules/regulations and limits on wildlife. That’s the way it is in any State, correct me if I’m wrong.

  32. Tyler Turnipseed

    I’m as much opposed to big federal government as anybody, but selling off federal land would mean the end of hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, backpacking, and other recreating as we know it. Wanna go hunting in Texas? Better get out your wallet and buy a lease. There goes the North American model of wildlife management in which the wildlife belongs to the people. Getting rid of public land means getting rid of public wildlife and we become Europe where only the wealthy have the privilege to hunt.

    • I agree.
      “The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value. Conservation means development as much as it does protection.”

      – Theodore roosevelt

      That land is our land as a nation of people. It shouldn’t and does not belong to individual states to divvy up and sell to the highest bidder.

    • There is too much to cover all, but you have that all wrong, the state claims ownership of the wildlife the feds claim much of the land, so it’s ok for eastern states to have control of the majority of their land but not western states. People in the eastern states get the tax revenue of their assets but not the people of the west?

      • If states get control of the land, it won’t help your average hunter or citizen. It will be chopped and sold to extraction companies and what little wildlife is left on state controlled land will be auctioned off. Look at Antelope Island in Utah. Dennis Austad paid a combined $865,000 over a 3 year period to hunt mule deer there from 2012 – 2014, only to be beat out the next year by a canadian for $390,000. This is the future of hunting if left to the states.
        I’m not saying the federal agencies like the BLM and EPA don’t need reform just like social security or the whole federal government for that matter. Once they sell the land and take away our rights to it, they won’t give it back.

  33. I will never support the sale or transfer of our public lands to the States. These federal lands our National Treasures and we are so blessed to have them. There is no other country in the world that has public lands like the US. Guy is right about the State mandates. Those who are outfitters and guides will pay more than 3% in user fees. Grazing permitees cost of AUMs will sky rocket to anywhere from $18-25 an AUM. This is just the beginning, not to mention the loss of public access for all types of recreational activities.
    I have already written the Wyoming delegation regarding this subject. Two HB were recently defeated in Wyoming to transfer federal lands to the State. Write your delegations from the States you live in and tell them hell no.

  34. My problem is that much of the govenment land cannot be accessed by the general public. In the checker board sections you cannot even cross at the corners. Perhaps these lands should be sold and only those with public access retained. These retained federal lands should not be transfered to the states.

  35. federal government does a good enough job. States would get all goofy with there newly found wealth and who knows what would happen. Also, It would make some folks quit buying guns and ammo and other hardware associated with hunting and shooting. I think land transfer would be a disaster.

  36. In Michigan act 240 land cap sponsored by Tom Casperson a state senator from UP. This law passed in 2012 mandates the state sell all lands aquired beyond the present day state holding’s of current acres of 4.625 after 6 months. This law was passed against the will of every major sportsman grop in our state. We have 1.7 million acres of national forest’s within our boundaries. Huron, Manistee, Hiawatha & Ottawa, this acts will force the salesgirl these forest in transfer. Was this law a coincidence? You tell me!

  37. part of the falicey of his argument is that the fed control of the lands keeps it from being transferred to private ownership. their is still a way for you and i to obtain federal controlled land and it’s called the dessert land entry man act, folks use it everyday to start farms and ranches. Another point to consider is that the federal government has no problem with locking us out of any federal controlled ground as was shown the last time they budget issue raised it’s ugly head and came to a showdown in D.C. we as tax paying americans were locked out of parks , monuments, BLm and forest service ground while the gamesmanship played out back east. the thing to remember is WE as as voting members of our state have far more control over the destiny of the grounds when they are in state control, if WE let those in the state legislator know that if we aren’t allowed access, THEY will soon be looking for a new job, then THEY will will see the wisdom of doing what we want, unlike what happens in far off washington D.C.

  38. I agree with you Guy very much including your first comment regarding the Constitutional proper small size of federal government. Thus there is a dilemma since the fed is not Constitutionally able to own land the way it does and with recent presidents whom have been environmental whackos and anti-hunters, they have stacked the federal agencies like BLM and Forest service with persons of their unfavorable mindset. Thus we hunters are damaged by the feds too.

    For any state take over to work, there would have to be a totally new law enacted that would permanently manage the land for wildlife and preserve full rights for the hunter/fisherman and prevent private sale and/or abuse of permitting for mining or grazing, etc. I would love to see this happen in order to get the land out of the radicals hands at the fed level. I would love to see a stop put to feds turning our public lands into useless national parks…

    Problems enough to go around on both sides of this issue…

  39. Another point to be made is that as a resident of one state, and a citizen of the US, I also share in ownership of public lands in most other states. The Forest Service land or BLM lands in other states belong to me as a citizen. I don’t want to give up my land in other states. State ownership will preclude this. No one has the right to take my public lands from me.

  40. Mike Public land

    The people who expressed the thought that the totality of all the branches of government are to large and it’s just a matter of time before we have to sell all our public treasures are correct the government continues to over promise and overspend at the federal state and local levels unheeded and it flushing the whole country down the drain

  41. How do we get people involved in fighting to keep public lands in public hands. There needs to be a movement on this, we need to form an organization. Eastmans you have the perfect platform to push this very hard and you should take that oppurtunity before its to late.

    • Check out Backcountry Hunters & Anglers assoc. They’re on the front line fighting to keep public land in public hands

  42. How is the federal control introducing their wolf hybrids working out for y’all and arbitrarily closing forest to accommodate their agenda with no one accountable other than un-elected bureaucrats.

  43. Going all the way back to Guy’s intro article:

    When he mentioned the mess that is happening in Utah, what he didn’t say was that the DWR in as much as rigged the selection of who will manage the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo. Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife (SFW) has virtually taken over the Utah game commission for quite a while and has basically enabled large numbers of trophy big game tags into lottery and auction hunts for the benefit of big money hunters all at the expense of joe public. SFW got the rigged bid for the Expo which included 200 trophy tags while in competition with RMEF for the bid. RMEF agreed in their bid that 100% of the money from the tags would go back to DWR. SFW, under the terms by which they got the bid for the Expo, gets to keep 70%!!!! of all money raised.

    SFW has tried and is still trying hard to nose into F&G department throughout the West. They made a strong effort in Idaho with only modest success with which I am most familiar. Beware if they come knocking on your door!

  44. I’m from Montana. Montana couldn’t aford to manage the fedral lands.

  45. Article1 Section8 Clause17 says what the federal government can own, they have no right to land they have now.

  46. I live in Nevada, over 80% federal lands. That’s Our land, we the people, Joe taxpayer. Except for military facilities and such, I can go anywhere I’m able to, anytime I want to, to hike, to hunt, fish , camp, whatever. The state gets money from the Feds every year to make up for lost revenue from property taxes and such. Nevada can neither afford to make up for that lost revenue or take care of and manage these lands if they were to be transferred to the state. It’s Our land, We The People, leave it that way

  47. I’M am tired of federal control over our state lands .the feds are closing more and more of our land off to us.every time the forest service has a problem their only answer is to close it!the feds think it is their land when it is our land!forest service has closed alot of old roads to motorized travel there by shutting it of to the elderly and handicap,yet they have opened up and made lots of trails for mountain bikers in prime wildlife areas.

  48. I really appreciated reading many of the above posts as I believe there are many great ideas given from earnest folks seeking a better America. Term limits should indeed be considered on a national level to hedge against the career politicians whom are more interested in protecting their job and serving lobbyists rather that seeking what is truly best for their constituents; spending on various fronts is indeed out-of-control and must be reigned in (term limits and perhaps additional campaign finance reform may open the door to real spending reforms being implemented); gerrymandering should also be closely examined with thought given to relative equal partitions being created in all states (Prop. 11 in California should be studied as there are good ideas and people that come from California notwithstanding some of the comments above).

    With regard to the federal lands transfer issue, I believe there is a tremendous amount of precedent showing that states will indeed readily sell their lands to private interests and that state land uses can differ drastically from those associated with federal lands. One should consider that approximately 80% of the state lands here in Colorado are unavailable for the activities such as hunting, fishing and camping and perhaps more importantly that essentially all state lands that were granted to the states of AL, AR, FL, IL, IN, IA, KS, LA, MI, MN, MO, NV, OH and WI have been sold; the state land sold in the aforementioned states equates to over 28 million acres. I believe that this fact is key when considering whether transferred lands will stay available to all Americans in perpetuity. It is also my belief that states simply cannot afford to manage our vast public lands in the west effectively over an extended period of time as Guy makes good points on what could happen in WY and what is happening in OR; one tough fire season could potentially wipe out a state budget and be the impetus for a fire sale of “public lands.”

    Some folks above are stating their thoughts that land in state hands could be better protected and given more direct oversight by the respective state residents; I actually think the reverse could be true as dark money groups and those not ostensibly acting altruistically towards their fellow citizens may be discovering that local elections may be an easier (and cheaper) way to promote their agendas and expand corporate holdings (e.g. look at the financial backing that the Koch brothers have given towards education “reform” here in Colorado or how they are now backing Rep. Ken Ivory et. al. in Utah and the American Lands Council.)

    It’s critically important to remember that you and 320 million plus other Americans are the owners of federal land and we thus should have a voice concerning state/local measures outside our own state that threaten to transfer federal lands into the hands of states/others. It seems like proponents of the land transfer issue reference lands in the east as an example of how a lack of federal lands “can work” and as a model to follow; on the contrary, I believe President Roosevelt saw the exploitation and degradation of lands in the east and midwest that had already occurred and believed that the Federal Government was the best way to conserve lands in the west that hadn’t yet fallen victim to mismanagement and to preserve various remaining wild places for posterity. TR understood what sustainability meant long before it became a buzz word in today’s society. It’s also important to remember that thousands of “eastern hunters” venture westward each year while spending millions of dollars to enjoy their vast public lands still remaining and the wild game that inhabits them.

    “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” – Theodore Roosevelt

  49. Guy, You are absolutely correct; transferring public lands to the states is a recipe for disaster. What will be left for future generations? How can the states afford the massive costs of wildfires? I hope more people “see the light”.

  50. I’m not sure what the difference is between Weatern states and Southern states as far as public land is managed but my home state of Arkansas has more than three million acres of public land set aside as WMAs for the benefit of game species. Hunting is allowed during regular seasons on all of this land. Every acre of it was purchased 100% and is maintained using the procedes of hunting and fishing licenses. To my knowledge this land is not a source of revenue for any part of our state government’s budget. Maybe the parcels out West are just too large to be managed this way but it works great for us.

  51. Chris Martinez

    Guy is absolutely correct. If states have control, there is a much greater temptation to sell the land to relieve budget problems. Hunting in the United States could become an activity only for the wealthy with access to private land.

  52. If you want to take action to prevent transfer, there is something you can do. You can sign this petition. I encourage you to do so.


  53. I worked for the USFS for 33 years in NW Montana and northern Idaho. I saw the FS go from a land conservation agency who did good things to the land that benefited hunting and all animals to a preservation agency. The hunting now in overgrown, diseased forests is now crap. The hunting 10 – 15 years ago in NW Montana for whitetail bucks was phenomenal.
    The FS is essentially locked in litigation gridlock. Nothing gets done because of continuous lawsuits from large, powerful environmental groups. Even if the FS wanted to do the right thing, they are prevented from doing so by the continuing litigation. The litigation is from all the federal laws that were passed many years with good intentions but now have been abused by preservation groups to stop everything. It’s no wonder the local people who live closest to these lands favor transferring management of these lands to the State.

  54. Thanks a million for bringing this to the attention of hunters. I have been sending information to outdoor and hunting magazines along with asking elected officials their position on selling or transferring public lands. It is a wake up call to everyone if you like to go on public lands to hike, fish, hunt as I have for nearly 70 years, but that is in jeopardy. It all started in Utah with the drive to get public lands for development and selling off to big donors and ranchers. Not to get into religion but one big buyer is the Mormon church. I have lived in Wyo, Utah, Colo, Nevada over the years and it is great to take my family, grandkids to 4 wheel as well as hunt. Come folks to have to be heard, write or call your congressman. The only legislative group I have heard saying no to this is Montana. The Utah, WY, and Nevada “conservatives” will not commit to not selling or transferring, but quite the opposite. They see dollar signs in their checkbooks growing. If you think it is a joke or will not happen it will, it does all the time. The states do not have the where-with-all tp handle it but makes a great way to increase their dollars or decrease their debts due to bad state government management. Look at Wyoming with more reserves, income than any other state, gets dollars from the feds like other states from the feds, “cash in lieu of taxes” each year. If they manage the budget and states right you do not need federal land to sell to get your ass out of debt. It all starts locally and works up, unlike trickle down economics. Thanks for allowing me to voice my opinion, I love the federal and state lands, the west and my the ability to go with my family, for the sake of your family, buck up.

  55. The wisdom here should follow that of Teddy Roosevelt. He saw that state manipulation would destroy wild places for the common man. That state politicians could be bought cheaper than federal politicians. Just look at Flint Michigan, the water was poison, and they said drink it, TO CHILDREN.
    The states will use the federal grounds as real estate for budget balancing. Leave the federal Government in control of wild places, EVEN is it means more wolves, and grizzlies.
    Scandalous statement you say? You can control those predators yourself(albeit illegally), but if Yellowstone is auctioned into oblivion, you will not be there to even see it!

  56. It’s a funny thing many of these states used schools as a tool to get the lottery brought in. Where did those funds go. If you ask me your spot on but the schools will never see much of the money. It will get stolen by buerocrats.

  57. The author uses the fact that Wyoming regulates out of state hunters in wilderness areas as one of his “points”. Well duhhh. Wilderness areas have no roads or street signs. There is no way to get the body out when you get lost and die. Of course they will make you hire a guide or outfitter with horses to get you back out. It is this way in many states.

  58. People can complain about big government and for the most part it doesn’t impact me. When we start talking about turning over federal lands then I have a big problem. I use public land about 4 days a week year round and pay no fees and only have to fallow some simple common sense laws. If I want to hunt I go to federal lands because I can find places without atv’s running all over the place. The state lands around here are nothing but grass and weeds after recent fires. The BLM and FS at least reseeded and that’s where the game is now. IDFG was going to seed the IDL area but the permittee said he didn’t want sage brush or bitterbrush that provide winter habitat to deer, elk and sage grouse. So from what I’ve seen there is no way I would want the state to manage the areas I love.

  59. It is truly amazing to me that anyone would really believe that giving federal public lands to the states is giving it to the citizens of the states You really have faith that your local elected official or legislator cares for your interests?. You are not going to be able to homestead the newly transferred land. You aren’t going to be able to lease it. And you certainly aren’t going to be able to buy it. It’s all going to the highest bidder or the current lessee. And that damn sure ain’t you. If the Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge occupiers are representative, the people that are land transfer advocates are people that generally have not experienced much success in life and have not created or accomplished much. (Except strangely enough they are all constitutional law experts). It is pretty naive to think that you are going to suddenly become shrewd and competitive when the blood is in the water during the transfer phase. You will be left standing there in about 10 years empty handed, with no land wondering what happened. Unfortunately you will have drug those of us that see through the insidious lies about how great transfer will be for “all of us” down with you. And you will have sold your children’s birthright. You are being played for the patsies that you are. You will need to either be connected to your rancher that is the state land commissioner or be a hundred-millionaire to even by invited to the table when the land gets divied up. You are not in the game.

    All one needs to do to understand where this is going is go to just about any western state land office website and see how far down the first page you need to go to see the statement “STATE TRUST LANDS ARE NOT PUBLIC LANDS”. It won’t be hard to find because it’s usually high on the first page and in all caps.

    Certainly I don’t love the Federal Govt. But I love my State and local govt a lot less on some issues.

    I just can’t wrap my mind around the fact that a guy running for president can say that 2% public land is too much, say it in ID and still win the republican primary there. Where the hell are you guys hunting and fishing? This certainly made me focus harder on trying to kill the land transfer momentum. I suggest anyone else that wants to preserve public lands and public land access start speaking up too.

    • For you fed haters tell me how many acres the federal govt has sold to the highest bidder. We have heard in this forum how many acres the states have sold. Which forest was closed as one commenter said. In AZ state trust lands are off limits unless you are actively hunting. No camping, no hiking no bike riding nothing. As many have said Ted Cruz has proclaimed he will turn over all federal lands to the states. Please note all the attempts to transfer the federal land to the states has started with Republicans. I am becoming a one issue voter. The only republican who says he will not do it is Donald Trump.

      • You better wait and see who Trumps VP pick is at his age, and with the oil sector billionaires behind this scheme, Trump may not finish his term. I am a one issue voter as well now!

      • So much BS in these comments. State Trust lands have ONE purpose and that is to generate funds for education. How do the states do that without selling the land? Cattle allotments? Recreational trespass fees? Timber sales? Mining?
        Arizona allows any legal activity you can think of on SITLA lands, go to their webpage and do a little reading. Sheesh! All they ask is that you as a recreational user fork over $15 f***ing a year, the cost of two f***ing happy meals to use the lands they manage. Get out your checkbook, write a check to Arizona dept. of State Trust Lands for FIFTEEN dollars once a year, and then go enjoy Arizona’s State Trust lands. So much boolshit getting thrown around in these comments.

        • I hunt elk on the Indian Peaks in western Utah, it is the state of Utah that manages the water resources out there, not the BLM. I often see the state forester out there managing the state inholdings, chaining, seeding, providing better forage and browse for the elk, and yes, cattle. The only Fed representation I ever see out there are LEO’s looking to cite your ass if you’re picking too many pine nuts or harassing the over populated range destroying feral horses.
          We just had another two million acres of federal monument designated in the Elk Ridge, Cedar Mesa, Bears Ears region. Why? Because the state of Utah wants to sell one township of land to a church historical preservation group and because they might sell some oil leases. You know what? Every time the fed does this shit, I lose more access to hiking, hunting, and motorized access. I am sick of this eco terrorism preservation crap. Which would you rather have? Access to good deer and elk hunting with an oil derrick on a ridge two miles away, or no oil well and you locked off the land? No brainer for me, I’ll take my chances with Utah state government and local politicians who I can corner in their offices, in the state legislature for thirty days a year, and at local meetings.

  60. All of these issue’s come down to the government we the people elect. That we cannot trust our government is blatantly obvious, to anyone who can look past the retoric of either party or the lack of real information from the media. So long as we allow those who serve in our government to run up and maintain massive debt, allow those who use the government service as a career move to amass great wealth, stay in office so long that they are recieving financial aid by supporting agenda’s beyond the scope of their office, allow any single branch of the government to act on an issue or write policy or law without the oversight of checks and balances written into the constitution, allow our government to set up an all powerful oversight agency that does not answer to the people “EPA” and becomes a vehicle for questionable interference in the use of land resources and mineral resources, or leaves it open for any interpretation of the laws set forth for land other than that of the use of all the people there will be abuse by any government agency. We the people currently allow special interest groups to over rule our rights by voting into office those who support agenda’s inconsistent with our best interest. We the people currently allow groups such as oil and gas, greenpeace, the EPA, or any other special interest group you care to name provide financial support to the legislator’s we vote into office there by creating the perfect climate for corruption in the judication of public lands. The only argument I could make for state oversight rather than federal oversight would be that a better watch might be more possible on the smaller scale of state oversight. I would make the argument however that to vote for any person into federal or state government office who is funded by any large financial entity or group is the best way to insure the current abuse of the system we have now.

  61. Great article Guy.
    I couldn’t agree more! I really hope all sportsmen and women get involved in this issue, or at least take notice of which politicians are trying to rid US of OUR public lands. Presidential candidates, those running for house and senate, and even local GOV need to be told how their constituents feel about this. If you want change in the current federal system, get involved in the planning meetings and try to help bring about those changes instead of giving jurisdiction to the states, and risking losing these lands forever. Also food for thought, there are much bigger bureaucracies in our GOV to worry about than the land management agencies. IRS, DOJ, TSA, DOT, etc. etc…

    Thanks for posting this

  62. Finally somebody agrees with exactly how I stand on it.
    Trump said in an interview he wants to keep it away from the states.
    And all my hunting buddies wanted to go nuts on me for agreeing.

  63. Right on -Guy. If Ted Cruz is elected President, watch out for our public lands. Your hunting public lands will be no more. The rich people will buy up all the public land they can, and then
    turn around a charge a big price to hunt there–if they let you hunt or fish at all. Here in WI.when
    we purchase an antlerless tag–we have to designate if we want to hunt public or ptivate land.
    What would be wrong with charging people who purchase tags in western states to pay a fee
    for public land use. That would go to fisherman, atv’s,bikes, etc. and have the money put in a special fund for maintenance of public lands. Another thing for income is have naming rights for our National Parks(ie-Pepsi Rocky Mnt. National Park) a great way to raise money. But the
    national parks should be solvent for now. The government should stop raiding funds that are
    suppose to be for the Parks!! How many people went thru Yelowstone Park last year–3-million.
    At 10 dollars a pop is 30 million in my book. Lot of money for one park.

  64. Article one Section eight, Paragraph seventeen of the US Constitution states that the federal government only has unlimited jurisdiction over the 10 miles of DC and properties it purchases from the state, with state legislature approval, for forts, magazines, arsenals, batteries and other needful buildings. The lands in question were ceded to the states under statehood. For example the Sierra National Forest is Fresno/Madera/Mariposa Count land and state land. IT DOES NOT belong to the federal government. They are contracted by the counties to manage it. You cannot sell something or give it back to the rightful owner. SHOW ME THE DEED, or better yet, show me the federal jurisdiction…… They have NONE !!

  65. Like you i’m not too pleased with the Feds . See what they are doing to Cokeville flats NWR . Seems that it’s OK to farm it but not okay to hunt or even walk into it ?? These rules that the USFS have are kind of confusing and not for the outdoorsman but to make the state of Wyoming look bad and punish them for not seeing eye to eye with the administration. It’s a real mess.
    Soda Springs Idaho

  66. years ago it was said that if they could get our lands from us and we couldn’t hunt then they could pass laws saying we would have no reason to have guns and take them away

  67. In 2015 the BLM closed 5,000 miles of roads on public lands in Colorado, and that was in just 3 Resource Management Plans (aka Travel Mgt Plans) (Kremmling, CO River Valley, and Grand Junction). Across the Western US, The BLM closes about 50-60% of roads in a district each time they do RMP/TMP and they are mandated to to do RMP’s every 20 years. Many of the routes they close are historic RS 2477 Rights of Way as they were established on unreserved public lands prior to the passage of FLPMA in 1976. The problem is the States/Counties/Sheriffs do not stand up to the federal gov’t on these illegal road closures and they allow and even support the closures. In Colorado the CPW gives back 62% of the OHV registration monies to the BLM/USGS to implement RMP’s that largely just close legal rights of way. Read the Grant they are on the CPW web site. What is the easiest way to manage public lands? Close it down to horse and foot traffic only and it becomes defacto wilderness area over night. I know way to much on this topic and I worked for 3 years to try and protect legal public highways on our public lands. Ultimately what I learned was my fellow hunters are clueless on this matter and they don’t want to get involved until their hunting area gets shut down, and then its to late. My prediction (with 50% less road access) is we will soon have small parking lots at the end of each road in a good hunting area, and many fewer hunters in 20 years. 80% of hunters will all try and hunt within a mile of that parking lot and after a few years of not seeing anything the kids won’t want to go looking anymore. The roads systems in place allow the hunters to fan out but more importantly many we have a legal right to use but we have no one protecting them from the bully on public lands, the BLM/USGS.

    • And Colorado shut out shed hunters from all public land west of I-25 till May 1st. While this may seem trivial now, the trend is for more and more recreational activities to be limited on public lands. Marty Holmes, the Mule Deer org guy said “their time is coming” with regard to other recreation. It’s just the start of a slow bleed till all hunting and outdoor recreation as we know it today is just a faint memory. May not happen in our lifetime but your grandkids will be hunting using non-lethal radio frequency devices and being driving to their “public” hunting areas in self-driving Uber cars, checking in with an iris scanner at their hunting area and reviewing data online about how many other hunters “electronically harvested” a certain trophy buck on this managed hunting area. It’s pretty sad to even think about so my suggestion is get out there and enjoy it now because things are going to change…

  68. Spot on Brandon Siegfried. For forty years I’ve watched access to “my” public lands being taken away from me. Something has to change, the federal government’s land management agencies are slowly but surely turning our public lands into “the king’s land”. Another twenty years down this road and we won’t be allowed on our so called public lands. I’m ready for a new direction and unless we can change fifty years of EPA, ESA, and FLPMA legislation being used to pummel westerners to death, then a transfer to state management will be a welcome direction for me.

    • Blake Barber

      States cannot operate on a deficit like the federal government. Not saying I agree with what’s been going on, but at least the public land is still there. If States take over and they are not making money as mandated by their state constitution, then they will have no choice to sell land or allow resource extraction. I really believe if you look into the issue then state transfer is worse case scenario. The beauracrats running these agencies need to change and the best way to change things is through getting involved. Join back country hunters and anglers or some of the people that are fighting this fight on our behalf every day.

      • Kendall Sorensen

        Blake, your words “mineral extraction” nearly drip with disgust. What is up with that? Whatever happened to the concept of multiple use of our publoc lands? Timber, mining, grazing, and yes, recreation? Are we to believe that our thirst for minerals is going to be satisfied by allowing countries like China, where environmenta and labor protections are non existant to keep us fat and happy in our lifestyles? We need minerals and our public lands hold them and they can be extracted using sound environmental methods. If BCHA would maintain their focus on protecting real wilderness and backcountry and quit working against multiple use of the other 80% of our public lands I would be more inclined to support them. Environmentally leaning hunting groups like BHCA are being played for suckers by the uber left whacko green druids who will never rest until all public land access and HUNTING is outlawed.

  69. I don’t understand why everyone frames the argument as one where either the federal government operates at a loss or the state government does. The reality is that in either case the forests wont be managed well, the federal government has already proven that operating at a loss results in poorly managed pine beetle damage and the resulting wildfires. Why doesn’t anybody recognize that we could solve the problem by sharing the responsibility of managing game and forests between the state and the federal governments? Combining funds and manpower would help cover the costs that neither can afford by themselves. Land trusts could be created that would prioritize managing the resources and public use in a balanced way while preventing any sale of the land. The management boards of those trusts could include both state and federal personnel so that we could ensure that we would get a good balance of local needs and the needs of the general public.

    • Agree nearly 100% with your assessment Rick, assuming we could insure those trusts were managed for multiple use, e.g. natural resources utilization, grazing, motorized access, hunting and not just another appeasement to the non consumptive wilderness druids.I would disagree on one point. My observations of boots on ground in Utah’s NF is that the state forester’s office is out doing a good job of managing the state’s inholdings within the National Forests. That they are managing for multiple use is an irritant for he druids is only a good thing IMO.

      • Brandon Sigfried

        There is so much misinformation out there. Everyone needs to read the annual Public Land Statistics books that the BLM has published every year for the past 70 years- google it. You will see exactly how many acres are lost or gained each year in every state. Also get educated on what State Trust Lands actually are, and you will never use that term again. The correct term is State School Trust Lands and they are managed and sold by the State School Boards. They were given to the states by the Feds upon statehood and have one purpose, raising money for the Schools. If you get to hunt on them its a bonus but they are not multi-use. https://trustlands.utah.gov/our-agency/what-are-trust-lands/

        • I know full well what SITLA lands are. I live in St George UT, 4 miles from the Arizona strip and I give the state of AZ $15 annually for a SITLA recreational pass that allows me to recreate on what are otherwise posted lands out on the strip. That’s money going to support Arizona’s schools. When SITLA lands are located adjacent to incorporated cities they are often sold to private and municipal interests. This serves two purposes: Generates inome for schools and stimulates growth in local communities. When SITLA lands are located within the boundaries of National Forests they are in fact overwhelmingly managed to coincide with the NF surroundings. Your ignorant accusation of me not knowing what State Trust Lands speaks loudly about your own.

  70. I grew up in Wyoming, where as a youngster, my father and I use to hunt antelope in GMU 26, which is a huge area and is considered Thunder Basin National Grass Lands. In years past, this area was mostly all BLM, with some sections of State Land intermixed, nothing “National” about it now. Over the years, the Feds turned the BLM Lands over to the State, who in turn have sold most off to Private buyers/Mineral Right Corporations, since the vast discovery of natural gas and coal in this area is abundant. Consequently, you can barely find a chunk of public land to hunt, and this is one of the largest land mass antelope areas in the state. Wyoming Game and Fish also gives out more Permits for this area than any other antelope GMU in the state, Why? Because they are in bed with the land owners, cater to their every whimper and whim, they want you to pay trespass fees or just not harvest anything at all, but, want you to continue to purchase the licenses. What the State of Wyoming has also done, is sell portions of land, checker boarding is what I call it, where the state doesn’t have to manage it anymore, the land owners don’t have to purchase it, or pay taxes on it, but control the access points, where no one can enter without trespassing through a portion of their private property. Take a close look at a Wyoming BLM map and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about, even though Wyoming claims to have so much Public Land, a large portion of it, isn’t accessible. I know first hand that Game and Fish are in bed with private land owners, where I’ve been harassed and run off of Public Land, by land owners, who’s land adjoins Public Lands, called Game Wardens to come and do something about Hunter Harassment, and they refused to come out and do anything about it. This has happened to me on five separate occasions, but on the other hand, if a land owner calls to report that you’re trespassing, a Game Warden will run vehicles off the road to get there to issue you a citation. Like it or not, believe it or not, hunting, to include public assess, has become money driven, they want you to continue purchasing licenses, but would prefer that you really not harvest anything. This keeps their game numbers up, money flowing and the process on going. I’ve never had a Game Warden offer good advice on where to hunt or where migration routes are for a particular area, it’s because they don’t want for you to really shoot anything………I’m all about Conservation, but have also realized that our government agencies don’t have OUR best interests at heart, it’s a money game, and those who pay the most, have the best chance of getting those hard to get licenses. Haven’t drawn an antelope tag for the past three years as a resident, where a non-resident has a better chance of drawing in the same area, because they pay more for their tags, it’s become ridiculous!!!

    • Damn man, you need to get outta Wyoming! Didn’t realize things had gotten so bad up there. Come down to Utah. Don’t know how they manage it but with 200,000 hunters in Utah I draw my deer tag like clockwork every other year, my cow elk tag every 2nd or 3rd year, and the years I don’t draw the antlerless elk I buy OTC spike and usually harvest one. Drew my lifetime Henry Mtn bison tag this year, drew my LE elk in ’08 and have 8 pts for LE mule deer. Should draw a tag for it in the next couple of years. Meantime I take a nice 4 pt on the general hunt every year I draw. No problems getting on public lands in Utah either with a few exceptions, the large ranches on the east side of the Wasatch front, and some access restriction on the Paunsagaunt and around. Zion NP, but they have always been there.
      If you are talking about checkerboarding are you referring to SITLA land sales? You know the western states are mandated to manage those lands to generate funds for schools? Maybe you could approach the SITLA land managers with better ideas on how to generate money on those lands without selling them??

  71. In the 1980’s Montana wanted to pass a bill that would allow the state to sell any federal land transferred to them, that was under 1/2 million acres. If that would have happened we would have lost 5 million acres of public land for hunting and fishing. We defeated the bill but it was a hard fight. The Charles Russell wild life management area, one of the best Elk hunt areas in the US, would have been sold to privet land owners and lost to the public forever.

    • Mi passed a law, land cap 240 in 2012 that mandates any “newly acquired” land the state has to consider the cost and sell on the open market within 6 months of “acquiring”! We have 4 National Forest’s in Michigan, 2 in the Upper Peninsula & 2 in the lower. Hiawatha, Ottawa, Manistee & Huron, all magnificently timbered Forests, the scams to sell these forest are connected to the transfer. No Republican politician I’ve spoke with on this issue in my state cares, one actually said, after I pointed out the law allows any country to buy transferred forests, he said, ” I don’t care who buys it as long as it isn’t owned by the Government”. My wife was with me and heard it as well, a Tea Party state legislator! This transfer is a multi point scam for wealthy resource developers to take control of our public lands now safe under Federal stewardship! Something no army in the world could accomplish, yet the threat is real and brought to you by a well funded and orginized minority!

  72. Sad but true. Most states have convoluted draw regs already in place as stated in the article about Nevad’s draw. I read it three times and still don’t fully understand it. The transfer of federal lands to states could be the beginning of the end for hunting. The feds aren’t great but the states are worse in many cases, especially if it’s a state with a liberal government that puts hunter’s on the bottom of the list. The worst part is once these lands are sold off they aren’t coming back.

  73. A lot of comments, a lot of good thoughts. I am concerned about Colorado as the sportsmen of this state have lost confidence in the handling of current revenues but with more restrictions.. What will happen to our rights if this trend continues? Prices go up as most organizations do but we feel we are not getting our bang for the bucks. All we ever hear is, it costs us more to run it yet we see little if any improvements..

  74. #1 the federal government will never allow a federal judge to allow the states to take over federal lands, that ship sailed at statehood. The states thought the feds would dispose of all federal lands out west like they did in the midwest but that did not happen and the states should have had a clause that in the event the lands were not disposed of, the lands would got to the states. Ship sailed.

    #2 I have heard hunters say they would vote democrat because of this issue, never sell out your country over hunting. Very sad. Guys like Randy Newberg use the State School Lands as an example the States will sell the federal lands, this is a lie, State Lands (School Trust) are controlled by the School Boards in each state not the State. So if Montana passes a law saying they can’t sell acquired lands its legit. Don’t forget two sections in each township and range were left for the school boards out west to raise funds for the schools. Google “utah state trust lands” and learn all about it. I have seen the school boards sell one of my access points to federal public lands. Talked to them and they explained the land had no value to the schools (could not raise money) so they sold it for $1 million and that in a trust will raise $40,000 per year for the kids. Sucks but I get it, kids before hunting access. Many hunters have an issue with anything before hunting, those are selfish hunters.

    #3 The Wyoming law that limits access to wilderness is completely unconstitutional and needs to be challenged by non resident hunters. The idea that only a big game hunter needs to hire a guide on Wyoming Wilderness is 100% prejudice and in violation of federal laws. Which supersede state laws in this instance. Want to learn about jurisdiction go to http://www.publiclandjurisdiction.com .

    #4 Last thought, your federal gov’t is $27 trillion in debt, at what point does the system collapse. The least of our worries should be transfer of federal lands, the future of this country and socialism are a much bigger threat. Socialists will end hunting with the wolf and taxes, just look at Colorado. The east half of the state just passed a law that only allows the transplant of wolves west of the continental divide where only one county voted for wolf. Hunters need to get educated and involved with politics.

  75. Koch thanks you for your naive support for their scheme to expedite the privatization of our public land heritage!

    • Public Land Hunter

      Yes, it’s so naive to think that the feds won’t screw something up. After all, everything they do is like Swiss clockwork…

      Give me a break!

  76. While no system is perfect.. Human error is a real thing we know.. But presently there is thousands of miles of good roads giving countless people access to millions of acres of public land for recreation. I’ve hunted many wild free places far from other people without a care to where I hike, why, because we still can.. I’m sorry you have a imaginary fear that a Fed may make a move that might appear to you as less than optimal.. Those radio pundens have stoked worry into your mind..Take a long hike on one of 154 National Forests and reflect one how this untitled land from the dawn of time and then decide, would our be better under the control of a handful of the global kleptocracy? Respectfully D Dailey


    I feel the Federal government should continue to regulate the uses of government lands or the non-resident little guy will be gradually be forced out of hunting either monetarily or by regulations. The state governments I feel would be more easily corrupted by the monied people each particular state. Keep it in the Federal governments hands is my vote!

  78. How any serious western hunter could wring their hands about Federal Public Land is beyond me. Eastman’s itself would probably barely exist were it not for Fed public land and the generations of public land hunters/readers that it makes.

    The State vs Federal land ownership question as far as hunting access is concerned is not complicated at all. The transfer-to-state movement has long been for one purpose. Reduce public land when states sell it off. Many (most?) western State Trust Land offices post on their websites a notice that state trust land is not public land.

    The mandate for State trust land is to maximize revenue. Federal public land is managed under a multiple use mandate. Grazing lessees have much more control of state trust land than federal land. In New Mexico you can’t camp on state trust land without permission from the lessee. Every couple of years the NM State Land Commissioner bends Game and Fish over in negotiations for the easement for hunting. We pay a million bucks a year out of our license dollars to the state land office for the hunting easement. About 6 or 8 years ago the state land commissioner raised the fee from $200k to $1 mill. He tried to make it $2 mill. We are one state land commissioner away that hates hunting or public hunting from losing the hunting easement. That’s one of the major pitfalls of state trust land. In states like New Mexico, one person, the State Land Commissioner is essentially the dictator of state trust land. The situation in CO is much worse for hunters than New Mexico. The hunting easement applies to a much smaller percentage of state trust land than NM. In AZ it is quite a bit better than NM as camping is allowed on state trust land in AZ. NV sold off almost all of its state trust land.

    Federal public land is fantastic for hunters and far superior than state trust land. It’s not even a question.

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