Conservation News

Comment Sought: Department of Interior Proposes Expansion of Hunting, Fishing Opportunities

Interior Secretary David L. Bernhardt recently announced a proposal to open or expand hunting and fishing opportunities on 97 National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) across the country and 9 National Fish Hatcheries. This will include 8 NWR’s that will be opened to hunting or fishing for the first time. The increased access and opportunities for sportsmen spans 2.3 million acres and brings the number of refuges where the public may hunt up to 399 and up to 331 where fishing is permitted. This proposed expansion will create 900 distinct new hunting opportunities across the United States. A full list of Refuge openings, expansions and changes can be found here. The Department is taking public comments until June 9, 2020.

Take Action Today-The Service will seek comments from the public on the proposed rule for 60 days, beginning on April 9, 2020. Please click this link to be directed to the public comment page: Docket Number: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2020-0013, and will include details on how to submit comments.

“Hunting and fishing on federal lands have long been a priority for the Sportsmen’s Alliance,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “We would like to thank President Trump and Secretary Bernhardt for their continued commitment to expanding access and opportunities for American sportsmen.”

The Sportsmen’s Alliance has been instrumental in opening public lands for outdoorsmen, including leading the campaign to pass the 1997 Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act that clarified that hunting and fishing were priority uses of National Wildlife Refuges. This landmark legislation has resulted in millions of acres opened for sportsmen and continues to do so today. Overall, this newly proposed rule represents a continuation of the Sportsmen’s Alliance’s success with the 1997 refuge law (National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997; P.L. 105-57) and a tremendous positive step for the sportsmen community and improving access to public lands.

Additionally, the Sportsmen’s Alliance has championed “open-until-closed” legislation for federal lands, which changed the assumption that activities related to hunting and fishing are open unless closed for specific cause. This legislation was signed into law last March by President Trump.

“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.”

About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: Online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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