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Secretary Bernhardt Proposes Increasing Public Access to Hunting and Fishing on 1.4 Million Acres Nationwide

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Oak Harbor, Ohio June 5, 2019 – Furthering the Trump Administration’s efforts to increase access to public lands, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt today announced from Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge a proposal for new or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities at 74 national wildlife refuges and 15 national fish hatcheries managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) across more than 1.4 million acres.

These refuges and hatcheries provide incredible opportunities for sportsmen and women and their families across the country to pass on a fishing and hunting heritage to future generations and connect with wildlife.”

The proposal would increase the number of units in the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System where the public may hunt from 377 to 382, and the number where fishing would be permitted would be increased from 312 to 316. The proposal would also formally open lands on 15 hatcheries of the National Fish Hatchery System to hunting or sport fishing for the first time.

The proposal also outlines a comprehensive revision and simplification of all refuge-specific hunting and fishing regulations in all 50 states to more closely match state regulations while continuing to ensure safe and compatible opportunities. The Service worked closely with the states in preparing the proposed rule.

“Well managed hunting and fishing are the backbone of conservation in this country, but inconsistent or overly complex regulations can act as a disincentive,” said Service Principal Deputy Director Margaret Everson. “By aligning our refuge regulations with our state partners, we are reducing confusion and the regulatory burden on the American public, helping ensure the tradition and benefits of hunting and fishing can continue.”

New proposed refuge opportunities include the opening of:

Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin
Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida
Great River National Wildlife Refuge in Illinois and Missouri

Public Hunting AccessProposed changes at hatcheries include the formal opening of lands:

Leadville National Fish Hatchery in Colorado
Iron River National Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin
Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery in Texas
Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery in Washington

Ed Carter, President of the The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency added, “We need to get people outside to enjoy the lands and waters, and fish and wildlife resources, of our great nation. This is an important step in that direction!”

The Service intends to finalize the proposed changes in time for the upcoming 2019-2020 hunting seasons.

A complete list of all refuges and hatcheries in the proposal is available in the proposed rule and online.  Click Here

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Don McDowell, Arizona native, is an avid outdoorsman and has been an active bass pro fisherman for over 16 years and in the past 15 years has developed his own radio show promoting bass fishing and conservation efforts for bass fishing that escalated to nominations with several bass groups and organizations. In the past 12 years, Don has pursued his conservation agenda through AZBFN-TBF as Conservation Director and with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in the spring of 2014 redesigned his website to include those efforts highlighted below and has increased the AZGFD exposure, public education of the AZGFD and Commission issues on his radio show and website soliciting local and national support for Arizona. 2014 has seen the founding of SRT Outdoors, Inc., 501 C3 organization, “Not for Profit, for Conservation” which is concentrating on grants for mitigating the effects of Gizzard Shad on Roosevelt lake thorough habitat enhancement, Florida Strain Bass stocking, lakes bottom mapping, etc. and feral hog research.

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