Federal Land Closures: Political Theatre at its Worst
USSA Calls on President Obama to Take Action
(Columbus) – As Washington D.C. faces another government shutdown, hunters, anglers and trappers across the country are facing a shutdown of their own. From Alaska to Florida, sportsmen and women are finding that the budgetary standoff in Congress is having a direct impact on their hunting or fishing season.
The federal government has issued directives to "close" accessible public lands and waters while the government is "shutdown." At stake are millions of acres of public land administered by agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Park Service (NPS). For decades the public has been free to access these lands for recreational purposes—including hunting, fishing and trapping—without securing any specific form of permission or authorization. But now, these agencies are being told to close access to their lands because of the standoff taking place over funding the federal government.
"These lands are generally accessible to the public without special entrance fees, passage through gates, or access via controlled roads or waterways," said Nick Pinizzotto, USSA President and CEO. "Not only are these closures unnecessary, they run contrary to law. This is 'political theatre' at its very worst."
The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance delivered a letter to President Obama today demanding that these closures be lifted to allow American hunters and anglers to once again pursue their way of life. Click here to read the letter.
These closures are occurring on lands where federal law mandates hunting and where hunting is statutorily determined to be a "priority public use." Lack of an agreement on a federal budget does not terminate the effect of the law which clearly allows for hunting.
In 1995 and 1996, the federal government went through a similar situation as Congress and the White House locked horns. The ensuing "shutdown" did not result in closure orders for accessible public lands.
"It's a shame that these closures are being implemented as a punishment against sportsmen and women," said Pinizzotto. "These lands are our lands, and American sportsmen and women — and the general public — deserve better than this."