In spite of initial efforts by some to try drawing hunters, anglers and other outdoor recreationalists into the politics of the Federal shutdown, common sense appears to have prevailed on the issue of public land access.
After originally contributing to some of the confusion in his Field and Stream blog post of October 1, 2013, Bob Marshall has now confirmed what others had assumed as being obvious. According to the Bureau of Land Management FAQ document dated September 27, 2013 only those “recreation facilities, including campgrounds, boat ramps etc., will be closed. If it is a nondeveloped recreational destination with no controlled access, you may visit. However, there will be no services and there will be no non-emergency services available.”
In other words, if you can legally drive in or hike in, our federally-managed public lands are open for outdoor recreation.
Shouldn’t this have been obvious to all of us? Unfortunately, when politicians on both sides of this standoff begin taking hostages no one is safe from the ideological crossfire. In this case, the issue of public land access was seen as being a potential nerve that could be exploited in an effort to drag hunters and anglers into the political equivalent of canine territorial marking.
Also not surprisingly, several national sportsmen’s organizations couldn’t resist weighing in and once again tipping their political preferences. As we have written in the past, most older national membership organizations which engage on the issues of hunting, angling, conservation and the environment have found it necessary to abandon their originally bipartisan roots. The sad reality is that there is no money in the middle.
Organizations and coalitions such as TRCP who have historically been supportive of public agencies in the management of our natural resources have called on Congress to end the shutdown and “reopen” our lands to hunting and fishing. Organizations such as the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance who are generally seen as being supportive of the “right” side of the political aisle announced on Tuesday that they have“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.”
Our only comment to those on both sides of this debate and these lame attempts to incite the rage of hunters and anglers on these issues is: “nice try.” Oh, by the way, one other tip for these Armani-wearing political strategists. The next time you want to try to stir up the emotions of hunters and anglers on an issue which seemingly defies logic, don’t schedule it for the fall. Politics are the least of their concerns this time of year.