Hunting & Fishing
The National Conservation Lands Offer America’s Best Hunting and Fishing
The National Conservation Lands are America’s newest protected public lands and rivers, and without a doubt offer some of our country’s best hunting and fishing opportunities. Created in 2000, they now protect 36 million acres (less than 15% of BLM-managed land) of our most critical wildlife habitat and ecologically rich lands from development, while preserving access for all, including sportsmen. These examples only scratch the surface:
- Montana’s Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument is a wild game paradise world famous for big game, including bighorn sheep, elk and mule deer. It also has excellent upland bird, waterfowl and fishing opportunities.
- New Mexico’s Rio Grande del Norte National Monument was designated in 2013, with the help of more than a dozen local sportsmen’s groups. The spectacular Rio Grande Gorge offers the state’s top wild trout fishery as well as hunts for elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep.
- Arizona’s Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument produces trophy-class muley bucks, in addition to pronghorn, bighorn sheep, turkey and quail.
- The pristine backcountry of Colorado’s Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area has Gold Medal trout fishing on its 14 miles of the Gunnison River. These fish are big and wild, but don’t see the pressure they would in other places. You can also hunt deer, elk and chukar.
- On the Wild and Scenic Trinity River in California, you can catch trout, salmon and steelhead along a 43-mile stretch of one of America’s most stunning rivers.
The National Conservation Lands are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and are open to hunting and fishing with few exceptions. Hunting and fishing regulations are controlled by the state where the unit is located.
The National Conservation Lands include National Monuments and National Conservation Areas, Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Scenic and Historic Trails. Owned by all Americans, these landscapes guard our country’s heritage and outdoor traditions while helping to drive the nation’s $646 billion outdoor recreation economy.
National Monuments and National Conservation Areas (NCAs)
These are places that give sportsmen the chance to experience the West as it once was, on their own terms. You won’t find visitor centers or paved interpretive trails at 99% of these sites. What you will find is great hunting and fishing, thanks to large, undeveloped landscapes, and protected access on dirt roads and trails.
Once lands become part of the National Conservation Lands, existing access is preserved just the way it is—and lands can’t be sold to private interests who might close them off for their own interests. If you hunt and fish on the National Conservation Lands, you can rest assured that your grandchildren will enjoy hunting and fishing opportunities there, too.
Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas
All of these remote, pristine places allow hunting and fishing. These are the National Conservation Lands’ best opportunity to step back in time, places where—as defined by the Wilderness Act of 1964— motorized and mechanized use (i.e., vehicles and bicycles) are not allowed. These wild places also offer some of the best hunting and fishing remaining anywhere in the U.S., and it is not a coincidence: here wildlife can remain wild, and their habitat is protected from the constant threat of development.
Wild & Scenic Rivers
The National Conservation Lands include 38 rivers designated as Wild and Scenic. Fishing and hunting are allowed in all designated Wilderness and Wild and Scenic rivers. As Trout Unlimited points out, these designations are good for fishing and hunting because “they strengthen protections for high value habitats (i.e., headwaters, alpine meadows, wildlife and fish migration corridors) while preserving access for traditional, low-impact activities such as fishing and hunting.”