Presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke to Anthony Licata, editorial director of Field and Stream magazine while visiting the Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The publication asked Trump his thoughts on transferring federal lands back to the state.
AL: I’d like to talk about public land. Seventy percent of hunters in the West hunt on public lands managed by the federal government. Right now, there’s a lot of discussion about the federal government transferring those lands to states and the divesting of that land. Is that something you would support as President?
DT: I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold. We have to be great stewards of this land. This is magnificent land. And we have to be great stewards of this land. And the hunters do such a great job—I mean, the hunters and the fishermen and all of the different people that use that land. So I’ve been hearing more and more about that. And it’s just like the erosion of the Second Amendment. I mean, every day you hear Hillary Clinton wants to essentially wipe out the Second Amendment. We have to protect the Second Amendment, and we have to protect our lands.
But then Trump went on to acknowledge that the federal lands have suffered from federal budget cuts.
AL: Let me ask you this—back to conservation and access for hunters’ rights to get on public land. One of the things that we’ve found is so much of this campaign—not your campaign, but this election cycle—has talked about cutting budgets and reducing the federal government. And what the budget is for managing public lands right now is at one percent. In 1970, it was two percent. Would you continue to push that number down for wildlife conservation or would you look to invest more?
DT: I don’t think there’s any reason to. And I will say—and I’ve heard this from many of my friends who are really avid hunters and I’ve heard it from my sons who are avid hunters—that the lands are not maintained the way they were by any stretch of the imagination. And we’re going to get that changed; we’re going to reverse that. And the good thing is, I’m in a family where I have—I mean, I’m a member of the NRA, but I have two longtime members of the NRA. They’ve been hunting from the time they were five years old and probably maybe even less than that. And they really understand it. And I like the fact that, you know, I can sort of use them in terms of—they know so much about every single element about every question that you’re asking. And one of the things they’ve complained about for years is how badly the federal lands are maintained, so we’ll get that changed.