“The hunt has become big business,” Mr Herring said. “And people who have rented land for hunting don’t want people who don’t pay to be there. As a result, the issue of trespassing has grown hotter every year.
Resentment from landowners and the commercial hunt also heated up.
“If you go back a few decades, it was a lot easier for the public to go knock on doors and get access to private land,” said Mr. Webster of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, which worked with OnX on public land. initiatives. “In general, the owners of the land had roots in this community – they went to church together, they went to school together, they grew up together. And if you want access to my place, that’s fine, let me know – that sort of thing.
This trust has been eroded, in part due to a generational shift away from family farming and animal husbandry. “The owners and their children don’t want to carry on that tradition,” Mr. Webster said, “so they end up selling to a new owner who may not be from the area and who may not have the same feelings about the public on their land.
The result – bitter confrontations steeped in class overtones and hinting at larger grievances – is now a staple of the West.
Legislatures have stepped in to resolve the disputes, largely in favor of landowners and corporate interests seeking to limit public access, while judges have moved to ease restrictions. For outdoor advocacy groups, the issue can be a public relations nightmare, as the deep-pocketed donors they woo for financial support are often landowners.
Like a corner-crosser, OnX found himself navigating a tightly contested space. In 2018, Mr Siegfried stepped down as chief executive to focus on defending public lands. At the same time, the company began posting a stream of “access initiatives” trumpeting landlocked and landlocked land issues.
Laura Orvidas, who took over from Mr. Siegfried as OnX’s chief executive, doesn’t think the app makes intrusions any easier.