Yesterday, the Department of Interior announced its intention to expand hunting and fishing opportunities on 30 wildlife refuge comprising roughly 248, 000 acres. This is in line with his past secretarial orders and efforts to increase public access for these outdoor activities—which weren't seen on such a large scale until now.
What would this proposed plan do? It would open up new hunting and fishing opportunities across 30 wildlife refuges and expand such opportunities in 136 wildlife refuges. Moreover, it would simplify regulations to better reflect state hunting and fishing regulations, and go into effect during the 2018-2019 seasons. If approved, this measure would allow hunting to transpire across 377 wildlife refuges, while allowing fishing to occur on 312 wildlife refuges. An official DOI release said new opportunities would be permitted on "Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge in Illinois and Wisconsin," while allowing "deer hunting in Philadelphia at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge" for the first time.
“As stewards of our public lands, Interior is committed to opening access wherever possible for hunting and fishing so that more families have the opportunity to pass down this American heritage,” Zinke said. “These 30 refuges will provide incredible opportunities for American sportsmen and women across the country to access the land and connect with wildlife.”
Illinois and Missouri
Illinois and Wisconsin
Maine and New Hampshire
New Jersey and New York
This isn't the first time Zinke and his department have expanded hunting and fishing opportunities during their young tenure thus far. Last fall, his department opened up these opportunities across 10 national wildlife refuges and similar public lands.
Very encouraging news. Let's hope the naysayers—including those masquerading as sportsmen's groups resisting DOI leadership—applaud this proposal.