September 21, 2020

CSF and Roundtable Issue Comments to USFS to Protect Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Opportunity during Emergency Closures of Public Lands

On September 16, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, along with fellow NGO signatories on the Federal Lands Hunting, Fishing and Shooting Sports Roundtable (Roundtable) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), submitted comments in response to the USFS proposed directive for Closures of National Forest System Lands to Hunting, Fishing, or Recreational Shooting pursuant to P.L. 116-9, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (Dingell Act).

In emergency situations, USFS possesses the authority to close agency lands to hunting, fishing, or recreational shooting orders under specific conditions. Consistent with the Dingell Act, the Roundtable signatories sought clarification that emergency closures be limited to “the smallest area for the least amount of time that is required for public safety, administration, or compliance with applicable laws,” and requested increased public transparency with respect to the agency’s analysis of the size, scope and duration of a proposed closure.

Further, the Roundtable encouraged coordination with appropriate state fish and wildlife agencies before publication of a notice of intent for a proposed hunting, fishing, or recreational shooting closure order. State fish and wildlife agencies possess special expertise with respect to fish and wildlife management within their jurisdictions and can provide assistance to the USFS in defining the need for closure, determining the necessary size and scope of a proposed closure, or recommending alternative management strategies that could preclude the need for closure altogether.

CSF will continue to monitor and engage with the USFS to protect your access to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting opportunities amidst emergency closures of areas located on national forests or grasslands.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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