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Effort underway to restore Open Fields program

  • photo by Jesse Gery
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Senator Jon Tester of Montana, Senate co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, offered an amendment to restore the popular Open Fields initiative and foster public hunting access on private land. Sen. Tester introduced this amendment after the initiative failed to receive funding in a recent Senate appropriations bill. 

Unfortunately, with over 300 amendments on the floor, the amendment was not considered. While his Open Fields amendment did not receive a floor vote, Senator Tester has promised to continue to push for the passage of this program in the future. 

"Land access is a major issue among sportsmen, who are a dominant force in North American conservation efforts," said DU Director of the Governmental Affairs Office Scott Sutherland. "Congressional leaders must continue to take action to promote good programs like Open Fields that are so highly valued by the sporting community, which provides billions of dollars in conservation program revenue through license fees and excise taxes each year."

The Open Fields program, run by the U.S. Farm Service Agency along with state and tribal governments, provides competitive grants to expand public land access through land easements. USDA estimates that full funding for the program would open 5 million acres of private land to hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation activities nationwide. This would be a significant step in ensuring that Americans have quality places to hunt and fish, activities that contribute nearly $70 billion in economic activity annually.

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