August 10, 2017

Interior Secretary Zinke Announces Proposals to Expand Sportsmen’s Access across the U.S.

On August 9, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced two proposals to expand access for hunters and anglers across the country, including expanding opportunities at 10 national wildlife refuges, and 3,595 acres of wilderness area in New Mexico.

“Secretary Zinke continues to advance the interests of sportsmen and women through providing access and expanded opportunities for hunting and fishing on our federal lands,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “He is a true ally for sportsmen and conservation.”

National Wildlife Refuges

Under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), many national wildlife refuges are managed to ensure sustainable wildlife populations while offering hunting and fishing programs, and other wildlife-dependent recreation such as wildlife watching and photography.

This proposal will expand hunting and/or fishing opportunities at select national wildlife refuges in Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wisconsin.

The USFWS has opened a 30-day public comment period pertaining to this proposed rule. Visit, docket no. FWS-HQ-NWRS-2017-0005 to submit comments before September 8.

New Mexico

Through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Secretary Zinke is considering the addition of 3,595 acres donated by a ranch to become part of the Sabinoso Wilderness.

If accepted, the Sabinoso Wilderness will provide access to 16,000 acres for outdoor recreation including hunting and fishing. This area is currently surrounded by non-federal land, and adding the additional land will provide access to the wilderness area through the newly donated neighboring BLM land.

Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members Senators Martin Heinrich (NM) and Tom Udall (NM) have both expressed their support of this proposal.

In addition to other exceptional hunting and fishing, the Sabinoso Wilderness includes some of the most pristine elk habitat in the country.

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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