Why it matters: Access is often cited as the number one reason that sportsmen and women no longer participate in hunting and fishing. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which houses national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries, annually supports more than 2.5 million hunting days and almost 8 million fishing days, making these lands and waters a critically important place for hunters and anglers.
On May 4, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) demonstrated their commitment to America’s sportsmen and women by announcing a proposal to open or expand hunting and fishing opportunities across 2.1 million acres spanning over 90 national wildlife refuges and on one national fish hatchery.
This announcement continues to build on previous efforts to increase access for sportsmen and women, which have collectively resulted in expanding access to over 4 million acres of public lands and waters that are managed by the USFWS. If the May 4 proposal is finalized, the DOI will have enhanced sporting access on more than 6 million acres.
“The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) commends the Department of the Interior for continuing to expand access for America’s sportsmen and women across 2.1 million acres of the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. “As priority public uses, expanded hunting and fishing opportunities will allow sportsmen and women to continue their conservation legacy through programs like the Federal Duck Stamp which has added more than 6 million acres to the Refuge System for the benefit of fish, wildlife, and the American public.”
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to work with the Department of the Interior to seek additional opportunities to enhance access for America’s sportsmen and women.
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?