August 24, 2020

Department of the Interior Announces Historic Opening of 2.3 Million acres to Hunting and Fishing

Last week, the Department of the Interior announced a final rule to increase public access opportunities for sportsmen and women across more than 2.3 million acres, marking the largest opening and expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities on federal refuges and hatcheries in the history of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Specifically, this expansion will provide over 850 new hunting and fishing opportunities at 147 national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries spanning more than 2.3 million acres. This expansion builds off a similar rule in September of 2019 that expanded hunting and fishing opportunities on more than 1.4 million acres across the nation. In total, the Department of the Interior has increased access opportunities on nearly 4 million acres of public land over the last year.

“By providing new access to 2.3 million acres of refuge and hatchery lands and waters, this final rule, coupled with the expansion in 2019, demonstrates Secretary Bernhardt’s clear commitment to America’s sportsmen and women,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “Sportsmen and women are grateful for the Secretary’s steadfast leadership to increase public access opportunities for our nation’s sportsmen and women.”

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation continues to work closely with the Department of the Interior to seek new ways to increase access for hunters, anglers, trappers, and recreational shooters.

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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