Inaccessible Public Lands

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 identified:

16.17 Million

Acres of Your Public Land

are landlocked in 15 states

State By State Breakdown

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.

How We Got Here

2018

  • onX and TRCP alert decision-makers in Washington D.C. to the growing challenge of landlocked public lands, which has been made apparent by use of new GPS technology by America’s hunters and anglers. Learn More
  • First onX-TRCP report, “Off Limits, But Within Reach: Unlocking the West’s Inaccessible Public Lands,” reveals the broad scope of the landlocked challenge for the very first time. Study shows that 9.52 million acres of federal public lands are inaccessible across 13 Western states. Learn More
2019

  • Congress permanently authorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, securing the future of this successful public land access tool. Learn More  
  • Then-Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signs Secretarial Order 3373, directing the Bureau of Land Management to consider a parcel’s value to outdoor recreation access and whether it unlocks otherwise landlocked public lands before nominating acres for sale, exchange, or disposal. Learn More 
  • onX and TRCP present research on the connection between Colorado’s state land access laws and landlocked public lands at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Denver. Learn More 
  • At the TRCP Western Media Summit in Seattle in August, onX and TRCP release new findings on state-owned landlocked acres across 11 Western states. Sportsmen and women are missing out on 6.35 million acres of state land, according to the study. Learn More 
  • Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars help to unlock 13,000 acres of previously inaccessible public land in Oregon. Learn More 
  • Colorado addresses statewide access issue by opening 77,000 additional acres of state trust lands to hunting and fishing. Learn More 
2020

  • The MAPLand Act is introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Learn More
  • onX launches its tool for reporting public land access challenges and opportunities. Partners at the TRCP, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation stand ready to address crowdsourced public land issues on a case-by-case basis. Learn More
  • Congress passes the Great American Outdoors Act with full funding for the LWCF at $900 million annually. Learn More 
  • The TRCP and onX team up for the third year to uncover lost access opportunities in nine states east of the 100th meridian.

RealWorldImpact

"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?"

Eric Siegfield

Founder, OnX

The MAPLand Act

Make a Victory for Public Lands Even More Meaningful

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 this year with passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. There is now $27 million annually to enhance access to public lands for outdoor recreation.
To do this efficiently, however, hunters and anglers need one more thing from Congress: Passage of the MAPLand Act. This legislation would help public land management agencies digitize and disseminate public land access information—including many easement records that would 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 the Reports

Download PDFs of our past reports here.

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