As incompetent congressional leadership keeps the biggest conservative reforms frustratingly out of reach, the good news is that the Trump Administration is continuing the pace of positive secondary reforms on an impressive range of issues that can be addressed administratively.
The Daily Caller reports that President Donald Trump’s Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, has proposed expanding the American people’s access to ten national wildlife refuges, allowing hunting and fishing on federal lands in Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.
This proposal would bring the total number of United States refuges where hunting is allowed up to 373, and fishing up to 312. The Interior Department notes that these traditional American pastimes contributed over $144.7 billion to the US economy in 2011.
From the Department’s press release:
“I grew up in the mountains of northwest Montana, where I spent my time hunting and fishing on our shared public lands. I was lucky to take my boys out on the same land that my dad and granddad took me,” said Secretary Zinke. “As the steward of our public lands, one of my top priorities is to open up access wherever possible for hunting and fishing so that more families have the opportunity to pass down the heritage. The last thing I want to see is hunting and fishing become elite sports. These ten refuges will provide incredible opportunities for sportsmen and anglers across the country to access the land and connect with the wildlife.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages hunting and fishing programs to ensure sustainable wildlife populations while also offering other traditional wildlife-dependent recreation on public lands, such as wildlife watching and photography. The unparalleled network of 566 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts means that there is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas.
“With Secretary Zinke’s leadership, the team at the Fish and Wildlife Service is happy to expand hunting and fishing opportunities where they are compatible with wildlife management goals,” said USFWS Acting Director Greg Sheehan. “Sportsmen and anglers play a huge role in the conservation of wildlife and their habitat, so it only makes sense that refuges provide opportunities for folks to get outside to hunt and fish. Refuges provide all Americans with places to hunt, fish, observe the natural world firsthand and experience the great outdoors.”
Of course, this proposal is not finalized — now begins the public-comment period new regulations are routinely subjected to:
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 August 10, 2017. Comments must be received by September 8, 2017.
No doubt many sportsmen and women will be thrilled about these new opportunities. Do you plan to take advantage of them? Let us know in the comments!