As GPS technology has empowered individual hunters and anglers to locate even the tiniest parcels of public land, there has been growing concern about areas that could be open to the public but are entirely surrounded by private land. Inaccessible state and federal lands represent lost opportunities for Americans to pursue the outdoor recreation we love. So, we wanted to know exactly how big the landlocked problem really is and to identify collaborative solutions to help open more land in the West.
As Western territories achieved statehood, the federal government granted each lands from the public estate, with the intention that they serve as a source of revenue to fund public institutions such as schools.
These state trust lands were arbitrarily selected according to where they fell in a grid—new states received one or more designated sections in each six-by-six mile, 36-section townships—resulting in island-like parcels of state lands surrounded by private holdings.
Landlocked federal lands in the West have resulted from two primary causes. First, in order to subsidize the construction of railroads across the continent, Congress granted railroad companies alternating sections of land on either side of the tracks, breaking the landscape into a checkerboard pattern of public and private lands. Because most state trespass laws do not allow “corner crossing” from one public parcel to another, all such sections are inaccessible without the permission of the adjacent landowners.
If policymakers are serious about improving state and federal public land access for hunting and fishing, they need to provide full and dedicated annual funding of $900 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Since 1964, the LWCF has opened more than 5 million acres of public land, invested more than $16 billion in conservation and outdoor recreation, established new public fishing areas, unlocked previously inaccessible public lands, and enabled the strategic acquisition of additional public lands for the benefit of hunters, anglers, and everyone who enjoys the outdoors.
Although the Land and Water Conservation Fund is the single most powerful tool for opening landlocked public lands and connecting even more Americans to their best days afield, more than $20 billion in oil and gas royalty funds have been diverted away from the program. Permanent authorization for LWCF to live on—a big win for public lands advocates this year—would be undermined significantly without funding to fulfill the promise of the program.
Download a .pdf of the full onX-TRCP report for a detailed analysis of the State landlocked lands problem and what it will take to solve it.
The 2018 Report focused on federal landlocked public lands. You can read the enitre report by downloading below.Download Here
We are committed to opening new access for hunters and anglers in cooperation with private landowners and state and federal agencies.