Shareable media promoting conservation from the Outdoor Industry Communication Council
(OICC) – see below for more details.

This Independence Day, Celebrate the Gift of Public Land

While our nation’s founders fought for freedom from tyranny and oppressive taxation,
personal liberty was at the core of America’s origin story.

Nearly 250 years later, personal liberty remains the great gift of our national sovereignty
movement, and while signers of the Declaration of Independence couldn’t have imagined it
in 1776, the emergence of public land is one of the great expressions of our national
identity. As colonists, we were surrounded by the wild woods and rivers of America,
considered the domain of the King of England and off-limits to our ancestors who lived
among the boundless bounty of the New World.

But in the new United States, those public lands changed ownership, becoming the
property not of the King but of all citizens. Given that history, there’s no better expression
of your right as an American than to recreate this holiday on public land.

Maybe you visit one of America’s 424 national parks that span more than 84 million acres
of mountains, red-rock canyon, rivers, and even tropical islands. Or maybe you stay at a
designated campground while you hike a few of the 188 million acres managed by the U.S.
Forest Service. Feeling a little more adventurous? Shoulder into a backpack and trek across
111 million acres of designated wilderness. Or find a remote two-track trail and camp
beside your vehicle on the 247 million acres of ground administered by the Bureau of Land
Management. Maybe you want to view wildlife? The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service administers
over 560 National Wildlife Refuges and 70 national fish hatcheries, where healthy wildlife
habitat is the agency’s top priority.

Those are just the federal lands that are open to you, your family, and your neighbors.
Every state has thousands (some have hundreds of thousands) of acres managed as state
parks or state forests. Nearly every mile of our rivers is open to public recreation, and tens
of thousands of lakes and reservoirs offer wonderful fishing, camping, and water-based



Public lands can sometimes resist visitation. They’re not always clearly marked or defined.
They often require a vehicle to access. Some charge visitation fees to help cover
administration and infrastructure improvement costs. And others are so remote and wild—
we’re looking at you, Alaska—that they require specific logistics to reach and special gear
to access.

But there are plenty of resources to help you find public lands near you. If you’re looking
for a campground or designated recreation area, visit Or maybe you
want to find a place to hunt, hike, or fish. The Public Lands Foundation has interactive maps
of federally managed public lands across the country. And every state wildlife and parks
agency has maps and resources for visitors to state-managed lands.

If you’re into take-it-with-you technology, the mobile mapping app onX shows land
ownership of nearly every acre of the country, and can be a great resource to find out-ofthe-way public parcels.



As you recreate this Independence Day, keep in mind that while public land is open to
everyone regardless of age, gender, race, or religion, it’s not exactly free. It was costly to
our founders, for sure, but this gift to all Americans and visitors required funds to acquire
in some cases, and nearly all public property requires ongoing maintenance, which is
funded through a variety of channels.

Acquisition of public lands is made possible through outright purchase. In some cases, state
wildlife agencies use revenue from hunting and fishing licenses to purchase fee title or
conservation easements that allow full or limited public use of the property. In other cases,
funds from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund are used to purchase parkland,
wildlife habitat, or even municipal playground equipment. In the case of wildlife refuges,
states tap into federal and state funds to acquire critical habitat that is then managed
primarily for wildlife. Many of America’s most pristine wetlands and waterfowl production
areas were purchased with funds from the Duck Stamp, a special license required of every
duck and goose hunter in America.

Critical maintenance of our public-land infrastructure—including parking areas, fencing,
weed management, campgrounds, and restrooms—is often funded by America’s hunters
and anglers. Many state agencies receive a portion of taxes that shooters and anglers help
pay when they purchase items such as; guns, ammunition, bows, arrows, fishing rods, reels
and lures. That tax revenue can only be used on projects that benefit wildlife management,
habitat, outdoor recreation, and facilities like shooting ranges, boat ramps, and wildlife
refuge parking lots.

While hunters and anglers fund many of these infrastructure improvements, the vast
majority of visitation is by Americans who never bought a hunting or fishing license.
But you shouldn’t be overly concerned about potholes, port-a-potties, or parking signs this
holiday as you enjoy America’s expansive public lands. Use our public properties, share
them, celebrate them, and cherish them. Just know that our public land, like our freedom,
isn’t free.


About the Outdoor Industry Communication Council (OICC):

Formed around the commitment to educate all Americans about the origins of conservation
funding in America, the Outdoor Industry Communication Council (OICC) is managed by
Outdoor Stewards of Conservation Foundation (OSCF) and Wildlife Management Institute
(WMI). OICC works with outdoor writers to develop informative content that is available to
all outdoor organizations and media at no cost. A primary goal of the OICC is to better
inform and promote the positive contributions that wildlife agencies, industry
manufacturers, NGO’s and end users such as hunters, anglers, trappers and target shooters
make to conservation. Outdoor organizations interested in conservation are welcome to
use any OICC content to expand the reach of messages created by the OICC. To become a
member of the Outdoor Industry Communication Council, contact Jim Curcuruto of OSCF
(203) 450-7202 or Jon Gassett of WMI at (502) 330-9025 There are no costs involved to become a member of the OICC.
Members may utilize OICC materials as they see fit with no restrictions. For additional
information visit


This project is funded by the Multistate Conservation Grant Program (F23AP00404), a program
supported with funds from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program and jointly managed by the
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.