Below is a portion of a news release from the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Continuing the Trump Administration’s significant efforts to increase recreational access on public lands, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced a historic proposal for new and expanded hunting and fishing opportunities across more than 2.3 million acres at 97 national wildlife refuges and 9 national fish hatcheries. This proposed rule is the single largest expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) in history.
“America’s hunters and anglers now have something significant to look forward to in the fall as we plan to open and expand hunting and fishing opportunities across more acreage nationwide than the entire state of Delaware,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Hunt Fish Chiefs have been instrumental in our effort over the past two years to streamline our regulations and identify new opportunities for sportsmen and women like no other previous administration.”
This proposed rule would create nearly 900 distinct new hunting and fishing opportunities (an opportunity is defined as one species on one field station in one state). On top of last year’s expansion of 1.4 million acres for new or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities, this proposal would bring the Trump Administration’s total expansion to 4 million acres nationwide.
“Once the Trump Administration’s effort to eliminate the threat of COVID-19 has been successful, there will be no better way to celebrate than to get out and enjoy increased access for hunting and fishing on our public lands,” said Service Director Aurelia Skipwith. “I deeply appreciate everything sportswomen and men do for conservation and our economy, so I am delighted when we can do something to expand opportunities for them. I hope it will help encourage the next generation of hunters and anglers to continue on this rich American tradition.”
This proposal would bring the number of units in the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System where the public may hunt to 399 and the number where fishing is permitted to 331. In addition, this rule proposes to formally open lands on nine units of the National Fish Hatchery System to hunting or sport fishing.
“RMEF applauds Secretary Bernhardt for proposing to expand public hunting and fishing access at the nation’s wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries,” said President and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation R. Kyle Weaver. “The 2020-2021 station-specific proposed rule for these facilities gives hunters and anglers new opportunities and access to 2.3 million acres of public lands and waters, building on the 1.4 million acres the Secretary opened and expanded access to last year. Opening and securing quality public access for hunters, hikers, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy lies at the heart of the RMEF mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. Expanded access at refuges and hatcheries gives recreationists immediate opportunities to practice safe, social distancing while enjoying the outdoors and long-term benefits to wildlife management.”
The Service will seek comments from the public on the proposed rule for 60 days, beginning with publication in the Federal Register on April 9, 2020. The notice will be available at regulation.gov Docket Number: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2020-0013, and will include details on how to submit comments.
Find more details here.
(Photo source: U.S. Department of the Interior)