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Interior Department Unveils Proposal for New and Expanded Hunting and Fishing Access In 46 States

Trump’s administration announced a plan to expand hunting and fishing access across 1.4 million protected acres.

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a press release that, “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 refuges 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.”

The plan announced in June “would open 74 national wildlife refuges and 15 national fish hatcheries operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to outdoor sporting enthusiasts.” Service Principal Deputy Director Margaret Everson said, “Well managed hunting and fishing are the backbone of conservation in this country, but inconsistent or overly complex regulations can act as a disincentive.” Deputy Director Everson also said, “By aligning our refuge regulations with our state partners, we are reducing confusion and the regulatory burden on the American public, helping ensure the tradition and benefits of hunting and fishing can continue.”

In September of 2018, land managers in coordination with the Interior Department, compared federal and state hunting and fishing regulations and came up with a goal of streamlining policies in all 50 states.

The review—the first of its kind for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—plans to be a revision of the hunting and fishing rules at refuges in all states to more closely match individual state regulations. The goal: to alleviate the most common issue of sporting men and women across the United States and Canada and stem the lack of access to hunting and fishing sites, which is the number one reason North Americans stop or don’t participate in these activities at all.

While some naturalists will have an issue with this new access, most outdoorsmen agree that refuges and other wildlife management areas need systematic wildlife population controls in place to maintain healthy overall animal and game communities.

Included in the refuge system for new access is the Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin and the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming. Wildlife officials have every intention of finalizing the proposal in September 2019, just ahead of most hunting seasons for the 2019-2020 year, and since hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities contribute over $156 billion to the economy annually, getting this plan into motion is of the utmost importance.

In September of 2017, then Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke moved to allow more access on public land for sportsmen to hunt and fish on land to be managed by the Interior Department. The order was to expand hunting and fishing education to veterans as well to increase volunteer access to federal lands.

Zinke said, "This secretarial order is the latest example of how the Trump administration is actively moving to support hunting and other forms of outdoor recreation on public lands...Hunting and fishing is a cornerstone of the American tradition and hunters and fishers of America are the backbone of land and wildlife conservation.”

Having access to land is the heart and soul of what the average hunter needs. This kind of universal access will lead to more people using our shared great outdoors and increase the money spent on everything from guns and ammunition, to licenses and even fishing tackle.

The taxes on these purchases are the backbone of outdoor conservation monies used to keep our public lands accessible for generations to come.

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