You own 16.17 million acres of land you cannot access. Throughout 15 states, most of them out west, parcels of public land surrounded by private property are landlocked from public access. Leaving neighboring landowners to solely benefit from a public resource. Obviously, this is a problem.
The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) is a nonprofit conservation organization working hard on this issue. They have formed a partnership with onX, a digital mapping company that is popular with outdoor enthusiasts, to first identify such locations and to work for solutions leading to access.
“Through our ongoing collaboration with onX, we have been able to identify parcels of land that belong to taxpayers, yet they are unable to take advantage of the vast outdoor opportunities on these lands,” said Joel Webster, Senior Director of Western Programs at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “It is our hope that with this information, policymakers can see the problem, identify solutions, and work to ensure that sportsmen and sportswomen can access the lands that belong to them.”
Corporate activism is on the rise. Historically, corporations tried to stay out of fights that could leave any of their customers feeling alienated. That’s no longer the case. Today, we see companies putting resources into campaigns and initiatives that further the greater good for the greatest amount of their customer base. In the case of onX, that means supporting public lands and our opportunities to access and use those lands for outdoor recreation.
In order to help identify and open landlocked public lands, onX created a place on their website for anyone to report public lands and waters that are facing barriers to entry. According to the website, Report a Land Access Opportunity offers users the opportunity to provide information on:
- Properties currently for sale that could secure a new public access route to public lands
- Public land parcels that have no legal access routes
- Gates or roadblocks restricting travel to public lands
- Public waters that are difficult or impossible to reach
- Places where the public is trespassing when trying to reach public land
- Private landowners can tell us about places that are open to allow the public to cross their land to responsibly reach public land
“We know how important public land access opportunities are to hunters and anglers all across the country,” said onX access advocacy manager Lisa Nichols. “Especially in places where the majority of the landscape is privately owned, GPS technologies have enabled outdoor recreationists not only to find new opportunities on public lands, but also to notice landlocked parcels that could offer more of these opportunities if there was a legal way to access them.”
TRCP runs the website www.unlockingpubliclands.org. This is where you can find much more in-depth information about landlocked public lands across the country. It explains how we ended up with so many landlocked public acres, a state by state breakdowns of where those acres are and plans for how we can return public access to these public lands.
“When it comes to landlocked public lands, even small access projects can make a big difference,” adds Nichols. “Finding collaborative solutions to open some of these lands could offer new opportunities to residents of nearby communities where access to public lands and waters might currently be limited.”
The outdoor recreation economy represents $778 billion dollars. Without public access to public lands, that number would drop drastically. It’s great to see companies joining the fight to ensure as many of our public acres are open to public access as possible.
See you down the trail…
Pic: Over 16 million acres of public lands are cut off from public access, thus essentially privatizing a public resource.
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