November 13, 2018

Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council Recommends Expanding Public Access on Federal Lands and Information Resources

The Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council (HSSCC) submitted two recommendations to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke related to expanding public access on National Wildlife Refuges as well as public information resources about recreation opportunities.

National Wildlife Refuge System Strategic Growth Policy

When the Fish and Wildlife Service identifies parcels or easements for future acquisitions, the six priority public uses are not currently given equal consideration under the National Wildlife Refuge System Strategic Growth Policy. As currently written, this policy limits the Fish and Wildlife Service’s ability to consider access and recreation when evaluating opportunities to expand National Wildlife Refuges across the country. According to federal law, priority public uses of the Refuge System include: hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, environmental education, and interpretation. The HSSCC recommended that the Department of the Interior (DOI) initiate a review of this Growth Policy to determine whether it should be amended to allow for consideration of priority public uses when making decisions about future system growth.

The newly launched website was created as a ‘one stop’ shop for outdoor recreation opportunities on public lands including hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting. While DOI has developed the robust and useful tool for the public, the HSSCC recommended building the website subject matter on hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting and better promotion of these activities (similar to how camping and hiking appear on the site). This would help inform the public about opportunities for sportsmen and women and increase recreation participation on federal lands.

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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