Not having adequate access to hunting land is one of the main reasons new hunters say they stop pursuing the outdoors. That’s why opening access and increasing opportunities on public hunting lands has become a major part of the NWTF’s mission to preserve our hunting heritage.
Though there are hundreds of millions of public land acres in the U.S., much of it is inaccessible due to privately owned entry points. This can often lead to thousands, if not millions, of acres being partially or fully landlocked by private land. The NWTF often partners and leverages funds with state and federal agencies, other nongovernmental organizations and any interested partners to purchase these private tracts, opening access and providing recreational opportunities for veteran and novice hunters alike. One recent land acquisition like this was the ET Ranch purchase in Arizona.
In Arizona’s southeastern region, just northwest of Safford, lies the USDA Forest Service’s Coronado National Forest and Santa Teresa Wilderness Area, as well as the Bureau of Land Management’s North Santa Teresa Wilderness Area. These sprawling public lands are home to many game species and offer great hunting and other recreational opportunities; though, accessing these public lands was not particularly easy until the NWTF, Arizona Department of Fish and Game, The Trust for Public Land, Southeastern Arizona Sportsmen Club, Arizona Sportsman for Wildlife Conservation and others contributed funds allowing Arizona Game and Fish to secure an easement that leads into the Santa Teresa Wilderness Area.
Partners also used funds to help The Trust for Public Land improve existing roads and to create a parking area that leads right into these quality public lands.
“The ET Ranch purchase is a big win for Arizona’s sportsmen and women,” said Patt Dorsey, NWTF director of conservation operations for the West. “Our Arizona State Chapter does an outstanding job of raising funds and using them where it matters the most. We look forward to increasing access throughout the state in the near future.”
The ET Ranch purchase is one of many instances where the NWTF directed crucial funding to open access to public lands. In 2012, the NWTF set out to open public hunting access to 500,000 acres, as part of its Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt initiative. The NWTF eclipsed this goal seven years into the initiative, and, with one year left in the initiative, is standing at an impressive 667,772 acres opened to public access (and growing).
For more on how the NWTF exceeded and continues to build upon its Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. goals, click here.