Duncan Hunter INTRODUCES TEDDY ROOSEVELT BRING BACK OUR PUBLIC LANDS ACT
“In 1909, when President Theodore Roosevelt signed the last piece of legislation successfully creating over 42 million acres of national forest, the American outdoorsman came into his own. Our great “Outdoor President,” with a stroke of his pen, dedicated more land to American citizens for hunting and fishing than all the royal estates of Europe combined. “From the Adirondacks and the Blue Ridge of the East to the Sierra Nevada of California, every outdoorsman could now be the master of enormous sporting opportunities. The only price was a stretch of the legs and an investment of time and a modicum of woodsmanship. “Because of Teddy’s Roosevelt’s leadership and efforts, the public land of the federal government became truly the “estate” of the average American. “A carpenter in Indiana or Iowa could saddle up the old Chevy pick-up and take his sons elk or deer hunting on a long weekend in Colorado. A steel worker in Pennsylvania could drive “straight through” with his pals to that certain Aspen grove in Western Wyoming where big bucks always abounded on opening morning. Thus, until a few years ago, the outdoor legacy of Teddy Roosevelt and the birthright of outdoor Americans were secure.
“Not any more.
“Today, bureaucracies in state governments are closing down the outdoor opportunities for average Americans. They are slamming the door on outdoor families the old fashioned way: with outrageous fees for non-resident hunters, even when the hunting is done exclusively on federal land. “For example, the out-of-state license fee in Wyoming is $281 for deer, $481 for elk; in Colorado it is $301 for deer, $501 for elk; in Montana, it is $643 for both. In New Mexico, if two sons decide to take their dad on a weekend getaway, they each face fees of $355 for deer and $766 for elk. “What makes these high prices so unfair is that they are applied to out-of-state American outdoorsmen who hunt exclusively on federal property. The 190 million acres of national forest and 258 million acres of BLM are the birthright of all Americans. The notion that they are viewed as the domain of state legislatures runs against the principle of public usage of federal property.
“Certainly, individual states have the right to regulate the private land and state-owned property within their boundaries. No one quarrels with that. But placing prohibitive fees on hunting that is conducted on federal public lands quickly becomes a method of exclusion. “What happens, for example, if New Mexico should raise its out-of-state fees to $2,000 for bull elk? This increase would have the same effect as a locked gate for thousands of average Americans who want to hunt elk on any of the six national forests in New Mexico, over 11 million acres of federally owned land.
“The bill I am introducing today will restore acres for all American hunters to Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great Estate” of national forests and other public land. I acknowledge that some small amount of states’ wildlife resources are expended on federally owned and managed lands. Therefore, it is only right that out-of-state hunters share in this minimal expense. “My bill, therefore, says this: No state may charge more than $200 for a big game license, specifically, elk, deer, antelope or bear, for hunting that is carried out exclusively on national forest or BLM federal land. “The $200 fee strikes a balance between two interests. The first interest is the state’s legitimate need to recoup the few dollars that it expends in the management of federal land. The second, and most important, is the interest of helping that father with two teenagers who does not have the $2,300 the state of New Mexico will charge this year for a family of three to hunt on national forest for bull elk. “In most cases, even a $200 fee will be a windfall for states; far out-pacing any help they give the federal government for wildlife management in national forests. Any American, from any state, should be allowed to earn a fall morning hunting elk in the Rockies with a healthy hike and a good shooting eye, regardless if he has a large bank account. My bill restores that opportunity.”