US Dept. of In­te­rior an­nounces new hunt­ing, fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties

The Dundalk Eagle - - REC COUNCIL NEWS -

Con­tin­u­ing the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s un­prece­dented ef­forts to in­crease re­cre­ational ac­cess on pub­lic lands, U.S. Sec­re­tary of the In­te­rior David L. Bern­hardt an­nounced to­day at the Shi­awassee National Wildlife Refuge the his­toric open­ing and ex­pan­sion of over 850 hunt­ing and fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties across more than 2.3 mil­lion acres at 147 national wildlife refuges and national fish hatch­eries. This rule is the sin­gle largest ex­pan­sion of hunt­ing and fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice (Ser­vice) in his­tory.

“On the heels of Pres­i­dent Trump sign­ing the most sig­nif­i­cant con­ser­va­tion and re­cre­ation fund­ing in US his­tory, pro­vid­ing nearly $20 bil­lion over the next 10 years to fix and con­serve the Amer­i­can peo­ple’s pub­lic lands, the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion has now made an ad­di­tional 2.3 mil­lion acres ac­ces­si­ble to new hunt­ing and fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties,” said Sec­re­tary Bern­hardt. “We con­tinue to take sig­nif­i­cant ac­tions to fur­ther con­ser­va­tion ini­tia­tives and sup­port sports­men and women who are Amer­ica’s true conser va­tion­ists.”

The fi­nal rule opens or ex­pands 859 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 over 4 mil­lion acres na­tion­wide.

“The Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Sec­re­tary Bern­hardt have made ac­cess to pub­lic lands for hunt­ing and fish­ing and other out­door re­cre­ation a pri­or­ity be­gin­ning day one. Hunt­ing and fish­ing are a part of our Amer­i­can his­tory, and we con­tinue to en­sure we pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for these ac­tiv­i­ties which epit­o­mize our Amer­i­can her­itage,” said Ser­vice Di­rec­tor Aure­lia Skip­with. “Fur­ther­more, we have main­tained our com­mit­ment to pro­mot­ing good govern­ment by re­duc­ing the reg­u­la­tory bur­den by work­ing with states to fa­cil­i­tate these out­door ac­tiv­i­ties.”

This rule in­creases the num­ber of units in the Ser­vice’s National Wildlife Refuge Sys­tem open to pub­lic hunt­ing to 430 and those open to fish­ing to 360. The rule also for­mally brings the to­tal num­ber of National Fish Hatch­ery Sys­tem units open to hunt­ing or sport fish­ing to 21.

A com­plete list of all refuges and hatch­eries open­ing or ex­pand­ing hunt­ing or fish­ing is avail­able in the fi­nal rule. View an on­line list and map. The fi­nal rule in­cludes the fol­low­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties:

New refuge op­por­tu­ni­ties in­clude the open­ing of mi­gra­tory bird hunt­ing, up­land game hunt­ing, big game hunt­ing and sport fish­ing at Ever­glades Head­wa­ters National Wildlife Refuge in Florida for the first time; the open­ing of Bam­forth National Wildlife Refuge in Wy­oming to up­land game and big game hunt­ing for the first time; and the open­ing of sport fish­ing for the first time and the ex­pand­ing of ex­ist­ing mi­gra­tory bird, up­land game and big game hunt­ing to new acres at Canaan Val­ley National Wildlife Refuge in West Vir­ginia.

Ex­pan­sions of refuge op­por­tu­ni­ties in­clude ex­ist­ing big game hunt­ing onto new acres at Wil­lapa National Wildlife Refuge in Washington state and Bal­cones Cany­on­lands National Wildlife Refuge in Texas; sea­son dates for ex­ist­ing pheas­ant hunt­ing at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in Cal­i­for­nia; and ex­ist­ing mi­gra­tory bird hunt­ing, up­land game hunt­ing, big game hunt­ing and sport fish­ing to new acres at North­ern Tall­grass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge in Min­nesota.

Changes at hatch­eries in­clude the for­mal open­ing of lands on Jor­dan River National Fish Hatch­ery in Michi­gan to mi­gra­tory bird, up­land game and big game hunt­ing; the for­mal open­ing of lands on Berk­shire National Fish Hatch­ery in Mas­sachusetts to sport fish­ing; and the for­mal open­ing of lands at Little White Salmon National Fish Hatch­ery in Washington State to mi­gra­tory bird, up­land game and big game hunt­ing.

The rule also con­tin­ues the ef­fort from last year’s rule to­ward re­vis­ing refuge hunt­ing and fish­ing reg­u­la­tions, so they more closely match state reg­u­la­tions where the refuge is lo­cated. When­ever refuge reg­u­la­tions de­part from state reg­u­la­tions for safety or con­ser­va­tion com­pat­i­bil­ity rea­sons, these ex­tra reg­u­la­tions are as con­sis­tent as pos­si­ble across all refuges in a given state. In­te­rior worked closely with the states dur­ing the rule mak­ing process.

The fi­nal rule will pub­lish in the Fed­eral Reg­is­ter and be avail­able at http:// www.reg­u­la­, Docket Num­ber: FWS-HQNWRS-2020-0013.

Click here to view in­ter­ac­tive maps of hunt­ing and fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, and a web page of all en­vi­ron­men­tal doc­u­ments re­lated to open­ings and clos­ings at all 147 af­fected sta­tions.

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