Sportsmen encourage party platforms to support America’s public lands

More than thirty sportsmen organizations sent a letter to the RNC and DNC encouraging them to support America’s public lands

By Casey Skeens

National Wildlife Federation

More than thirty national and state-level sportsmen organizations, representing millions of hunters and anglers, sent the following letters to the Republican and Democratic Platform Committees encouraging them to support America’s public lands:

July 11, 2016

310 First Street SE                                                       1900 Market St, Suite 300

Washington, D.C 20003                                             Philadelphia, PA 19103

Honorable Reince Priebus                                         Honorable Shirley Franklin

Chairperson, Republican National Comm.            Honorable Daniel Malloy

Republican National Committee                              Co-Chair, Democratic National Comm.

Dear Mr. Priebus:                                                          Dear Mrs. Franklin & Governor Malloy:

Our organizations collectively represent millions of hunters, anglers and other outdoors enthusiasts. Our members, and tens of millions of other Americans, depend on our national forests, parks, wildlife refuges and other federal lands to provide fish and wildlife habitat and access to places to hunt, fish, and enjoy the outdoors. The iconic landscapes of America’s public lands also sustain our economy by supporting an outdoor recreation industry that generates $646 billion in economic benefit annually and supports 6.1 million jobs—and attracting tourists from around the nation.

Our national tapestry of public lands is the product of more than a century of leadership by both Republicans and Democrats. Several of the world’s first national forests, monuments and wildlife refuges were set aside by Republican President Theodore Roosevelt. Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt expanded our National Wildlife Refuge System and National Park System and put millions of Americans to work during the Great Depression restoring and maintaining public lands.  Over the years, presidents of both parties worked with bipartisan leaders in Congress to craft the laws that govern the activities of the U.S. Forest Service, National Wildlife Refuge System, National Wilderness Preservation System, and the Bureau of Land Management.

America’s public lands provide important value for all Americans, whether they live in rural or urban areas. These benefits include improving air and water quality, sustaining local water supplies, producing timber, providing grass for grazing, bolstering local tourism economies, enhancing agricultural production through pollination, and supporting a range wildlife and biodiversity.

America’s hunters and anglers have a special interest in our public lands.  Some of our most treasured big game animals depend on the secure habitat and migration corridors that are provided by public land.  Many sportfish species depend on cool, clean waters that originate on public lands.   Federal public lands also provide free access for tens of millions of Americans to hunt and fish every year.  These lands sustain our hunting and fishing heritage and fill our freezers. While all of America owns these lands, their wise stewardship is of particularly vital concern to us.

Managing hundreds of millions of acres of federal land for the public benefit requires a careful balancing of many different uses.  It is also essential to ensure that current activities do not impair the ability of future generations to benefit from our public lands.  There are no easy answers, but the value of public lands to the American people makes finding common-sense solutions worth the effort.

Your 2016 party platform presents an opportunity to explain to the American people how you will satisfy competing interests and protect our public lands for future generations.  Healthy debate about how to manage federal lands is an important part of the democratic process.  Your platform can advance that democratic debate by explaining how your party proposes to sustainably develop natural resources, protect wildlife habitat, ensure public access, and maintain our public land heritage for future generations.

At the same time, we do not believe it would be constructive to include broad directives to transfer federal lands to state or local control, sell federal lands to private interests, or otherwise liquidate the national interest in federal land management.  These kinds of directives do a disservice to the American people and especially to America’s hunters and anglers. These proposals do not advance the goal of finding meaningful ways to balance competing interests and preserve our national public land heritage for future generations.

Thank you for your commitment to the sound management and conservation of our public lands, which provide so much benefit to all Americans. If you would like to discuss this with us, please contact Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, at [email protected], 703-438-6046.


The National Wildlife Federation

Boone and Crockett Club

Dallas Safari Club

Ducks Unlimited

National Wild Turkey Federation

Pheasants Forever

Quail Forever

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

Trout Unlimited

Wild Sheep Foundation

Wildlife Management Institute

Alabama Wildlife Federation

Arizona Wildlife Federation

Association of Northwest Steelheaders

Colorado Wildlife Federation

Conservation Federation of Missouri

Florida Wildlife Federation

Georgia Wildlife Federation

Idaho Wildlife Federation

Indiana Wildlife Federation

Kansas Wildlife Federation

Michigan United Conservation Clubs

Minnesota Conservation Federation

Montana Wildlife Federation

Nevada Wildlife Federation

New Mexico Wildlife Federation

North Carolina Wildlife Federation

North Dakota Wildlife Federation

South Carolina Wildlife Federation

South Dakota Wildlife Federation

Tennessee Wildlife Federation

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation

Wyoming Wildlife Federation