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During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to "support the Open Fields Incentives legislation that provides incentives to farmers and ranchers who voluntarily open their land to hunting, fishing and other wildlife-related activities."
Open Fields is a provision inserted into the 2008 Farm Bill that passed Congress and was signed by President George W. Bush. It offers financial assistance to states that run voluntary programs to encourage private landowners to allow public access to their land. It also requires participating landowners to use best practices for fish and wildlife management.
The president's fiscal year 2010 budget would fully fund the program at $50 million over three years.
"Because ranchers and farmers already are making decisions about 2010 crops and grazing areas, state fish and wildlife agencies must enter into discussions with them at the earliest possible date to offer proposals for new public access on their lands," said Katherine McKalip, associate director of communications with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. "The Agriculture Department and Secretary Tom Vilsack must prioritize this rulemaking so that American sportsmen will be able to enjoy the intended access opportunities in 2010."
Still, we believe the administration has already done enough to rate this a Promise Kept.
Agriculture Department, "
Budget Summary and Annual Performance Plan
" for fiscal year 2010, accessed Dec. 15, 2009
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, " Some Key Sportsmen Programs Get Funding Boost in President Obama"s 2010 Budget ," May 14, 2009
NewWest.net, " New Program Needs More Priority: 'Open Fields' Hunting Access Program Needs a Push ,'" Nov. 5, 2009
E-mail interview with Katherine McKalip, associate director of communications with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Dec. 15, 2009.