Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt visited the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Ohio Wednesday to announce plans to increase access to hunting and fishing on 1.4 million acres of public land nationwide.
Besides the Green Bay and Seedskadee refuges, the proposal would also formally open lands on 15 hatcheries of the National Fish Hatchery System to sport fishing while two of the hatcheries, Leadville NFH in Colorado and Iron River NFH in Wisconsin, would also allow migratory game bird, upland game and big game hunting for the first time.
OAK HARBOR- An Ohio nature preserve was the backdrop Wednesday for the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to announce a new initiative making more public land available for hunting and fishing.
Hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities contributed more than $156 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, published every five years.
Hearing it from the Interior Department, the changes are about protecting... protecting the tradition of hunting. Hunting is now allowed on 377 national wildlife refuges.
Ed Carter, president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, said state agencies represented by his group are "delighted" the Interior Department worked with states to expand hunting and fishing opportunities on public land.
The expansion is the largest proposed by the administration to date, Bernhardt said. "This is an important step in that direction!"
Hunting would be permitted on 382 refuges compared to 377 now and fishing would be on 316 units compared to 312 now.
The 2019 Hunt Plan would open all refuge waters, except Quanah Parker Lake, in the Public Use Area to waterfowl hunting between November and January. The notice will be available at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket Number: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2019-0040, and will include details on how to submit comments.
The St. Marks refuge is the only Florida location on the list.
Founded in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, there are some 560 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System - a network of lands set aside and managed by USFWS specifically as habitat for wildlife.
Delevan National Wildlife Refuge: Open to wild turkey hunting for the first time on 1,696 acres already open to other hunting.
Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Service permits hunting and fishing along with recreational activities such as wildlife photography, environmental education and wildlife observation when they are compatible with a refuge's goal and mission. Hunting, within specified limits, is now permitted on 340 wildlife refuges and 37 wetland management districts.