03/29/2019

In a big win for America’s outdoorsmen and women, Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed an order directing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to weigh public access for outdoor recreation as a factor in determining disposal or exchange of public lands. Hunting and fishing access are included in the order.

“Safari Club International joins in strong support of this move to improve access to public lands,” said SCI President Paul Babaz. “Our members are proud to stand alongside Acting Secretary Bernhardt as he seeks to ensure recreational access to our public lands is a top priority.” 

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) directs the BLM to identify lands for disposal or exchange. The Bureau’s former criteria did not require the agency to weigh public access considerations for hunting, fishing, hiking, etc., according to a Department of Interior news release.

Secretarial Order 3373 “Evaluating Public Access in BLM Land Disposals and Exchanges" directs the BLM to formally consider what impact the disposal or exchange of any BLM land will have on the public’s ability to access federal lands for recreation. 

The Secretary has directed the BLM to, within 45 days, amend its Land Use Planning Handbook and to develop new guidance if necessary, to ensure that increases or decreases in public access for outdoor recreation are factors the BLM will consider in the disposal or exchange of land.

“This order will help ensure that the Bureau of Land Management considers public access to public lands,” said Acting Secretary David Bernhardt in the DOI news release. “It requires that before the BLM exchanges or disposes of any land, they must first consider what impact the disposal or exchange of land will have on public access. The Trump Administration will continue to prioritize access so that people can hunt, fish, camp and recreate on our public lands.” 

In addition to SCI, the announcement was met with broad support from a wide variety of outdoors sporting groups such as the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Boone and Crockett Club.