Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced yesterday his agency will open more public lands to hunting and fishing opportunities, specifically 1.4 million acres, for Americans to enjoy.
This is in concert with a 2017 Secretarial Order 3356 put into place by his successor and former boss, Ryan Zinke.
“President Trump is committed to expanding public access on public lands, and this proposal is executing on that directive by opening and increasing more access to hunting and fishing by the Fish and Wildlife Service at more stations and across more acres than ever before,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “Hunting and fishing are more than just traditional pastimes as they are also vital to the conservation of our lands and waters, our outdoor recreation economy, and our American way of life. These refugees and hatcheries provide incredible opportunities for sportsmen and women and their families across the country to pass on a fishing and hunting heritage to future generations and connect with wildlife.”
This proposal would open up hunting and fishing opportunities on 74 national wildlife refuges (NWR) and 15 National Fish Hatchery System public lands — all under the purview of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). This would bring the number of hunting opportunities to 382 NWR’s and fishing opportunities to 316 NWR’s. For context, there are a total of 556 national wildlife refuges in the nation.
This also opens up 15 national fish hatcheries to sport fishing and hunting opportunities—the first directive of its kind.
Per the USFWS’ 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, hunters, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts contributed $156 billion to the economy. Hunting participation has seen a decline in recent years, in contrast to fishing participation—which has enjoyed gains.
This is a huge win for sportsmen and women.