In the picturesque regions of the western United States, particularly Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah, an abundance of your public lands are being landlocked by private land owners.
Between these six states there are over 4 million acres of public lands that you, the public land owner, are being withheld from accessing. Four million acres would be the equivalent of 100 percent of Colorado’s Garfield and Mesa Counties combined.
In Colorado alone there are over 540,000 acres inaccessible to the public as a result from historic land ownership patterns, poor entry points and impediments to tracts of land that should be open to Colorado’s $13.2 billion consumer spending outdoor recreationalists and the 125,000 individuals that it employees.
Recently, in Nevada, Assembly Bill 386 was introduced, authorizing an individual to enter private land (air space) at the geographic point that represents the corner of the parcel in order to lawfully enter public land. Typically, this is called “corner crossing,” similar to a diagonal crossing on a checkerboard. This bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Mining after the motion carried by the 42 representatives present.
Sustainable and healthy western economies flourish with accessible public lands available. The tables in local restaurants, chairs in the bars, seats on the chairlifts and vacancy signs on the hotels are filled and taken by tourists that spend millions to enjoy outdoor activities in Colorado.
Studies have shown that Colorado public lands promote jobs and produce higher incomes. Counties with public land access opportunities have four times higher job growth than counties with little public land access.
With congressional belts becoming tighter with few financial reserves to guarantee that public roads keep open to our public lands, perhaps Colorado’s’ delegates need to look at this bill to enhance Colorado’s Public Lands economic “backbone.”