Monday, November 16, 2009

Do you know who's land you're on?

Sounds like a simple question but the answer is not always obvious. With so many different land management agencies - National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, USDA Forest Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers, countless state parks, hundreds of local municipalities, etc. - it can be very confusing for the average outdoor enthusiasts. Not to mention the dozens of different land designations - Wilderness, national park, wild and scenic river, national monument, - just to name a few.

One must ask - why does it even matter who's land I'm on? Well, it does matter, and in some cases it matters a great deal. There are things you can do on USDA Forest Service lands (hunting for example) that you can't do in many National Parks. You can mountain bike on lots of land that the Bureau of Land Management manages but you can't mountain bike in federally designated Wilderness. What it boils down to is that recreationists need to know what is and isn't allowed on the lands where they hope to spend time.

Land management agencies have different classifications of land in order to manage for one thing or another. Whether it's solitude, resource extraction, water resources or recreation, land managers do their best to ensure that we properly steward public lands in the U.S.

The first principle of Leave No Trace, Plan Ahead and Prepare, encourages outdoor enthusiasts to do some research to find out about what is an isn't allowed on the lands they intend to visit. This seemingly simple step is critical for a quality recreational experience, and is very important for protecting the limited recreational resources we have to share.

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