Secretary Bernhardt Proposes Expansion Of Hunting And Fishing Opportunities

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Continuing the Trump Administration’s efforts to increase recreational access on public lands, U.S.

Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced a proposal for new and expanded hunting and fishing opportunities across more than 2.3 million acres at 97 national wildlife refuges and 9 national fish hatcheries. This proposed rule is the single largest expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) in history.

“America’s hunters and anglers now have something significant to look forward to in the fall as we plan to open and expand hunting and fishing opportunities across more acreage nationwide than the entire state of Delaware,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Hunt Fish Chiefs have been instrumental in our effort over the past two years to streamline our regulations and identify new opportunities for sportsmen and women like no other previous administration.”

This proposed rule would create nearly 900 distinct new hunting and fishing opportunities (an opportunity is defined as one species on one field station in one state). On top of last year’s expansion of 1.4 million acres for new or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities, this proposal would bring the Trump Administration’s total expansion to 4 million acres nationwide.

“Once the Trump Administration’s effort to eliminate the threat of COVID-19 has been successful, there will be no better way to celebrate than to get out and enjoy increased access for hunting and fishing on our public lands,” said Service Director Aurelia Skipwith. “I deeply appreciate everything sportswomen and men do for conservation and our economy, so I am delighted when we can do something to expand opportunities for them. I hope it will help encourage the next generation of hunters and anglers to continue on this rich American tradition.” 

This proposal would bring the number of units in the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System where the public may hunt to 399 and the number where fishing is permitted to 331. In addition, this rule proposes to formally open lands on nine units of the National Fish Hatchery System to hunting or sport fishing.

“The National Wild Turkey Federation is pleased that the Department of Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service remain committed to removing barriers for hunting and fishing by increasing access and opportunities,” said CEO of the National Wild Turkey Federation Becky Humphries. “Reducing barriers to hunting has been a key aspect of the NWTF’s hunter recruitment and retention efforts. The Service’s proposal to open 2.3 million acres ties directly to those efforts.”

“Today’s announcement by Secretary Bernhardt is welcome news for sportsmen and conservationists across the country. Expanded hunting and fishing access creates enhanced opportunities to better conserve and protect the environments we serve,” said Coastal Conservation Association Florida Chairman J.D. Dickenson. “Opening more than 2 million acres of federal lands for public access not only boosts our economy but provides a gateway to transformative outdoor exploration and conservation opportunities for today’s sportsmen and for generations to come.”

“On behalf of Safari Club International and our members, thank you President Donald Trump and Secretary David Bernhardt for continuing to prioritize American sportsmen by opening up and expanding opportunities across 2.3 million acres of public lands,” said Safari Club International (SCI) CEO W. Laird Hamberlin. “Hunting and fishing are an integral part of our nation’s culture, economy and care for the land. Increasing access and opportunities for people to take part in our sporting heritage strengthens broader conservation efforts. By delivering on their promise to improve and increase hunting and fishing access, this Administration continues to be a champion for America’s sportsmen, wildlife and wild places.”

“RMEF applauds Secretary Bernhardt for proposing to expand public hunting and fishing access at the nation’s wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries,” said President & CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation R. Kyle Weaver. “The 2020-2021 station-specific proposed rule for these facilities gives hunters and anglers new opportunities and access to 2.3 million acres of public lands and waters, building on the 1.4 million acres the Secretary opened and expanded access to last year. Opening and securing quality public access for hunters, hikers, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy lies at the heart of the RMEF mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. Expanded access at refuges and hatcheries gives recreationists immediate opportunities to practice safe, social distancing while enjoying the outdoors and long-term benefits to wildlife management.”

“The initiatives by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt in 2019 to increase hunting and fishing opportunities on more than 1.4 million acres nationwide, are unprecedented,” said Executive Director of the Houston Safari Club Foundation/Houston Safari Club Joe Betar. “We look forward to the Department of the Interior’s continued expansion of public land access for recreation in 2020.”

New proposed refuge opportunities include the opening of migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting, big game hunting, and sport fishing at Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge in Florida for the first time; the opening of Bamforth National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming to upland game and big game hunting for the first time; and opening sport fishing for the first time and expanding existing migratory bird, upland game and big game hunting to new acres at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia.

Proposed expansions of refuge opportunities include the expansion of existing big game hunting to new acres at Willapa National Wildlife Refuge in Washington state and Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge in Texas; the expansion of season dates for existing pheasant hunting at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in California; and the expansion of existing migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting, big game hunting and sport fishing to new acres at Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota.

Proposed changes at hatcheries include the formal opening of lands on Jordan River National Fish Hatchery in Michigan to migratory bird, upland game and big game hunting; the formal opening of lands on Berkshire National Fish Hatchery in Massachusetts to sport fishing; and the formal opening of lands at Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery in Washington state to migratory bird, upland game and big game hunting.

The proposed rule also continues the effort from last year's rule toward revising refuge hunting and fishing regulations so they more closely match state regulations where the refuge is located. This year’s rule also takes a further step in proposing revisions that ensure whenever refuge regulations depart from state regulations, for safety or conservation compatibility reasons, these extra regulations are consistent across all refuges in a given state. The Department worked closely with the states in preparing the proposed rule.

The Service will seek comments from the public on the proposed rule for 60 days, beginning with publication in the Federal Register on April 9, 2020. The notice will be available at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket Number: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2020-0013, and will include details on how to submit comments.

The Department intends to finalize the proposed changes in time for the upcoming 2020-2021 hunting seasons. A complete list of all refuges and hatcheries in the proposal is available in the proposed rule. View an online list and map.


Tennessee's Free Fishing Day Set For Saturday

Scenic City Fishing Charters Adds Guide Scott Lillie

TFWC Sets Hunting And Trapping Regulations; Retiring TWRA Director Ed Carter Honored


Tennessee’s 2020 Free Fishing Day will go on as scheduled. The day is set for this Saturday, when anyone may fish free without a license in Tennessee’s public waters. The Tennessee Wildlife ... (click for more)

Scenic City Fishing Charters announced another expansion and is now offering seven fishing guides to serve anglers who want to explore Tennessee waterways. In business since 2006, Scenic ... (click for more)

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission has established the state’s 2020-21 and 2021-22 hunting and trapping regulations at its May meeting which concluded Friday. The commission and others ... (click for more)



Outdoors

Tennessee's Free Fishing Day Set For Saturday

Tennessee’s 2020 Free Fishing Day will go on as scheduled. The day is set for this Saturday, when anyone may fish free without a license in Tennessee’s public waters. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency provides the annual free day in hopes of increasing interest in fishing. "The day allows anyone the opportunity to try this great outdoor sport, especially children, ... (click for more)

Scenic City Fishing Charters Adds Guide Scott Lillie

Scenic City Fishing Charters announced another expansion and is now offering seven fishing guides to serve anglers who want to explore Tennessee waterways. In business since 2006, Scenic City Fishing Charters provides guided fishing trips for bass, trophy catfish, crappie and now trout. Guide Scott Lillie "is now offering a unique opportunity very few other guides in Tennessee, ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Hamilton County Has 2 More Coronavirus Deaths And 46 New Cases; One Victim Was In Early 40s With No Underlying Conditions

There have been two more coronavirus deaths in Hamilton County, the County Health Department reported on Tuesday. The new total is 17. The Health Department said one of the deaths was an individual in the 40-45 year range and had no underlying medical conditions. Officials said the two deaths were unrelated to each other. “This case illustrates that anyone is susceptible ... (click for more)

Anonymous Tip Helped Police Arrest Man With AR-15 At Miller Park Protest

Police said an anonymous tip may have saved many lives at a protest rally at Miller Park on Monday. Police were tipped off around 11:30 p.m. that a black male wearing jeans, a dark shirt and a camouflage tactical vest had been seen leaving the Douglas Heights apartments with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. The man was seen on a Real Time Intelligence Center camera holding an ... (click for more)

Opinion

When Violence In America Was Affirmed And Praised: Understanding And Solving Racial Injustices

One man’s violent anti-government protests is another man’s just war. First, let me say I do not condone the rioting and violence that is occurring across our nation, following the murder of George Floyd at the knees of white police officer Derek Chauvin. As someone who values that Jesus taught us to “turn the other cheek” I believe there are other ways we must respond, even ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Get Mad! I Am Too

I do not believe “Black Lives Matter.” Rather, I believe “All Lives Matter.” And using the latter over the former, I am mad too. The rioting that is taking place all over America is against the law. It restricts my freedoms, bridles my trusts, is contrary to my beliefs, and – if it still matters – is blatantly unconstitutional. That the President of the United States has no choice ... (click for more)