WASHINGTON, D.C. – April. 8, 2020 – Ducks Unlimited joined outdoor recreation partners, including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the National Wildlife Federation and 47 other organizations to send a letter to governors and mayors across the country, urging them to take actions to maintain safe and appropriate public access to nature during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented hardship and uncertainty to almost every American,” said Ducks Unlimited CEO Adam Putnam. “If there’s one thing people should feel comfortable about, it’s that they can continue to enjoy the outdoors they love in a safe, responsible, and socially distant manner. We are proud to join many of our partners in conservation and outdoor recreation to call upon our nation’s leaders to maintain public access to the natural landscapes that we hold so dear.”
The full text of the letter is below:
Our hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and other outdoor recreation organizations are writing to offer our help and ideas for maintaining safe and appropriate access to nature during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the entire country, we are concerned, careful, and committed to effective responses to the COVID-19 virus in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. We deeply appreciate your current burden of leadership and efforts to find and implement solutions medically, economically, and socially. Our organizations will help however possible and hope for good health for you and your communities.
The outdoors is where we are most able to help. At parks, wildlife management areas, lakes, and other places, we ask for your consideration in keeping managed-use facilities, boat launches, hunting and fishing areas, and viewing areas open to the general public. Barring localized situations that may justify closures, we urge a general policy of maintaining open access which will help families through this challenging time. Nature is an ideal place to keep safe distances among people while simultaneously allowing citizens educational and recreational experiences that provide health, and hope. Now, more than ever, Americans need to have the ability to access these lands for a variety of reasons, including hunting and fishing to provide food for their families.
In particular, please consider maintaining the openness of opportunities for the hunting of spring turkey and bear, and other in-season species, as well as fishing and recreational shooting opportunities that are timely right now. The spring hunting season is upon us, and if your state’s wildlife management areas and other public lands remain open, this will provide an opportunity for the solitary and safe pursuit of hunting. Fishing also keeps people at a safe distance apart and can help sustain the economy if tackle shops remain open as essential businesses. Several states have temporarily waived fishing license requirements (but not limits), or withheld trout stocking announcements (which attract crowds), or opened seasons early (to reduce risk of crowding). Recreational shooters are practicing social distancing at ranges that remain open and also play a strong economic role by generating the federal excise tax revenue that drives the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF).
In recent weeks, many of our organizations have communicated with our members, as well as federal and state policymakers, to encourage safe social distancing practices while enjoying the outdoors. As such, a social media campaign known as #ResponsibleRecreation is underway to encourage the public to act responsibly as they enjoy the outdoors. Similarly, we can support your efforts through our webpages and social media channels by distributing information on available points of access and guidance on safety.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter and diligence in facing the crisis.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 14.5 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.