Trump Administration Proposes Historic Expansion of Hunting and Fishing Opportunities

   04.13.20

The Trump administration announced last week a historic proposal for new and expanded hunting and fishing opportunities across more than 2.3 million acres at 97 national wildlife refuges and 9 national fish hatcheries.

The proposal, announced by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt, would create almost 900 distinct new hunting and fishing opportunities. And a lot of these locations would be open to hunting and fishing for the first time ever!

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 4 million acres nationwide.

The ruling would bring the number of units in the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System where the public may hunt to 399 and the number where fishing is permitted to 331. In addition, this rule proposes to formally open lands on nine units of the National Fish Hatchery System. Proposed 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 proposal would also allow for hunting and fishing opportunities at several brand-new locations, such as big game hunting, bird hunting and fishing in the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge in Florida; 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.

Here’s the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s complete list of proposed hunting areas.

The move was emphatically praised by both hunting and fishing groups like the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Coastal Conservation Association and Safari Club International.

“The National Wild Turkey Federation is pleased that the Department of Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service remain committed to removing barriers for hunting and fishing by increasing access and opportunities,” said CEO of the National Wild Turkey Federation Becky Humphries. “Reducing barriers to hunting has been a key aspect of the NWTF’s hunter recruitment and retention efforts. The Service’s proposal to open 2.3 million acres ties directly to those efforts.”

According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife, this proposed rule is the single largest expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities by the Service in history.

“Once the Trump Administration’s effort to eliminate the threat of COVID-19 has been successful, there will be no better way to celebrate than to get out and enjoy increased access for hunting and fishing on our public lands,” said Service Director Aurelia Skipwith. “I deeply appreciate everything sportswomen and men do for conservation and our economy, so I am delighted when we can do something to expand opportunities for them. I hope it will help encourage the next generation of hunters and anglers to continue on this rich American tradition.”

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