In an effort to increase access to hunting and fishing on public lands and waters, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced Wednesday a proposal to open or expand opportunities at 10 national wildlife refuges. If finalized, this would bring the number of refuges where the public may hunt up to 373, and up to 312 where fishing would be permitted.
More than 50 million Americans visit refuges every year. National wildlife refuges provide vital habitat for thousands of species and access to world-class recreation, from fishing, hunting and boating to nature watching, photography and environmental education. In doing so, they support regional economies to the tune of $2.4 billion dollars per year and support more than 35,000 jobs.
Hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities contributed more than $144.7 billion in economic activity across the United States according to the USFWS National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, published every five years. More than 90 million Americans, or 41 percent of the United States’ population 16 and older, pursue wildlife-related recreation.
The USFWS is seeking comments from the public for 30 days regarding information pertaining to the proposed rule. For additional information, go to www.regulations.gov, docket no. FWS-HQ-NWRS-2017-0005. The proposed rule will publish in the Federal Register on Aug. 10. Comments must be received by Sept. 8.