Hunting and Fishing Public Access

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

Proposed 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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