In partnership with
As GPS technology has made it possible to locate even the tiniest parcels of public land, it has also highlighted a major access challenge: Public lands that are entirely surrounded by private land with no permanent legal means of access. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership teamed up with onX to determine the scope of the landlocked problem and propose solutions for unlocking public lands. Since 2018, we have found that:
Inspired by this research and public land access challenges across America, #PROJECTLANDLOCKED is a new film that explores the complex history of landlocked public lands and looks at what the future may hold for our outdoor recreation access. #PROJECTLANDLOCKED was produced by Jason Matzinger and is presented by the TRCP, onX, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation—watch now!
Public land access is foundational to America’s hunting and fishing traditions. But landlocked public lands—the local, state, and federal parcels that are surrounded by private property with no public roads or trails to reach them—guarantee access to no one except the neighboring landowners and those with permission to cross private lands. Each inaccessible acre represents lost outdoor recreation opportunities, unless we unlock these public lands using a tool like the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Click on a region to dig into the data.
Together, the TRCP and onX were the first to tackle the landlocked public lands problem by identifying inaccessible lands and proposing solutions. To learn more about the history of this project, click a year to expand each section.
"In addition to creating technology that enables people to make memories in the field or on the water, we strongly support efforts that either improve current access points or open up new opportunities for our customers. Why not start with the public lands that we rightfully own?"
Our work to identify landlocked public lands across the country is based in the idea that we need to know exactly what access we have—and where we are locked out of hunting and fishing opportunities—before we can effectively solve the problem.
The best available tool to secure new access is the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which sportsmen and women championed through decades of funding battles before winning a landmark victory in 2020 with passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. There is now $27 million annually to enhance access to public lands for outdoor recreation.
Spending this money efficiently requires that we know exactly what access we have and what we need. This is why hunters and anglers championed the MAPLand Act, which was signed into law in 2022. This legislation will help public land management agencies digitize and disseminate public land access information—including many easement records that tell us where access is available across private land to isolated public parcels—that is currently only kept on paper files in the back of dusty filing cabinets.
Download PDFs of our past reports here.