Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager
On August 18, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt made a visit to Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw, Michigan to announce the final rule for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand recreational opportunities, including hunting and fishing, on federal lands. According to Secretary Bernhardt, more than 4 million acres of federal land has been opened for recreational activities since the administration took office almost four years ago. These increases in accessibility are important to ensure that hunters and anglers have access to areas to engage in their outdoor pursuits. The announcement was especially timely given the increased interest in outdoor recreation since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Secretary discussed the importance of conservation partners and the role that sportsmen and women play in the conservation of America’s fish and wildlife resources, especially in Michigan. The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is made up of 10,000 acres and sits adjacent to 10,000 acres of land actively managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, essentially giving sportsmen and women 20,000 acres of accessible land to enjoy their pursuits.
Also in attendance were Michigan Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs House Majority Floor Leader Triston Cole and Senator Jon Bumstead. In addition to the importance of the refuge for wildlife, Rep. Cole highlighted the critical role of the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in mitigating flooding in surrounding communities. Currently, 15% of the water in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula runs through the refuge. The refuge’s importance was recently tested by the failure of three dams in the watershed. The refuge was able to hold and filter the water entering Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron, reducing the amount of flooding that could have otherwise devastated local communities.
“Hunters and anglers are the ultimate conservationists. We put our money where our mouth is, improving and protecting the environment,” said Representative Cole. “Hunting access fees, licenses, and tags have done more for the protection of both game and non-game species and the environment globally than any other group or effort.”
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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?Vote Here
- Increase the number of states with discounted license tailored to specific groups. (5.15%)
- Increase access to public lands. (24.89%)
- Provide more information for new participants. (4.05%)
- Provide hands on opportunities to improve skills and knowledge. (13.16%)
- Engage youth through hunter and conservation programs in schools. (42.95%)
- I feel we have enough sportsmen and women and do not believe R3 programs are necessary. (9.79%)