ISSUE ALERT

RESPONSIBLE

Cover WLA 2020 Public Access Policy Statement
Our Position

WLA's Public Access Policy Statement

WLA strongly supports keeping public lands under federal management, and increasing federal investment in the care of public lands. At the same time, we also recognize the critical importance to the public of private lands and private stewardship. Just like public and private lands are intermingled and inter-dependent, so too are public and private interests. Successful solutions will start with mutual respect, a desire to achieve win-win outcomes and the recognition that the conservation of land, wildlife and natural resources must be the first priority.

ISSUE ALERT

Increasing demands for public access to and through private lands threaten biodiversity, ecosystem health and property rights.

In the West, public and private lands are often intermingled, and this can create challenges in terms of both management and public access. In addition, water and wildlife are public resources which often cross private lands. The potential for conflict arises whenever public and private rights intersect on the same piece of land. Conflicts can also arise when access to public lands is constrained by surrounding private lands.

The most significant casualty in the battle over public access to private lands ends up being the fish and wildlife that depend on private lands and landowner investments. According to the USFWS, two-thirds of imperiled wildlife species rely on private land for habitat.

We also have to recognize that conservation and recreation are not one and the same. The question needs to be asked: what are recreationalists personally giving back relative to the impacts we are generating?

WLA supports voluntary negotiated public access agreements on private lands for responsible recreationalists; access that takes the conservation of natural resource values into con- sideration, and sets limits to keep those resources undimin- ished. We advocate for the tools and funding to support such agreements. It is also important to recognize that landowners across the West already provide public access in many forms, from permission to hunt and fish to guided outfitting to pro- grams designed specifically for veterans, disabled individuals and youth.

Just like public and private lands are intermingled and inter- dependent, so too are public and private interests. Success- ful solutions will start with mutual respect, a desire to achieve win-win outcomes and the recognition that the conservation of land, wildlife and natural resources must be the first priority.

Sign up to Protect Private Property and Healthy Ecosystems

By joining the Western Landowners Alliance, you are adding your voice to those who seek responsible solutions to public access-private property conflicts that put the conservation of land, wildlife, and natural resources first.

WHERE WE'RE FIGHTING NOW

New Mexico Game Commission decision undermines property rights and once again muddies the water on stream access.

The decision to open the rule on non-navigable streams threatens to undo years of conservation work by landowners, injure wildlife habitat and species, harm farm and ranch livelihoods, and undermine New Mexico’s legacy of private property rights. 

The rights of public wading access to streams in New Mexico depend on whether or not a stream is considered “navigable”. The certification process to determine which streams are and are not navigable provided critical clarity to both landowners and the public concerning rights of access. The rule had previously allowed landowners to apply for a non-navigable certificate for streams flowing across their land. By opening the rule, the commission has created uncertainty for all concerned and the potential for direct conflict between landowners and fishermen.

The Commission used what appears to be a draft memo from the staff of the Attorney General’s Office as foundation for taking away rights conferred when properties are certified. The Chair directed the Chief Law Enforcement Officer to treat certified properties with rights obtained under the law no different than properties not certified. This is the latest in a series of efforts by certain sportsmen’s groups to force open public access to private lands.

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