In August, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced a new rule to expand access to hunting and fishing opportunities on more than 1.4 million acres of public lands across the country.
“This is the largest single effort to expand hunting and fishing access in recent history,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “President Trump has made increasing public access and streamlining government functions priorities of his administration, and this new rule delivers on both fronts given the unprecedented expansion of public acreage and removal or revision of 5,000 hunting and fishing regulations to more closely match state laws. This is a big win for sportsmen and sportswomen across the country and our collective conservation efforts.”
A total of 77 wildlife refuges and 15 national fish hatcheries managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) are now open to hunting and fishing for the first time. The new rule also expands opportunities for new game species in refuges where hunting is already permitted.
This specific expansion more than doubles the amount of public-land opened or expanded collectively within the last five years and raises the number of huntable refuges in the USFWS’s National Wildlife Refuge System to 381.
“We are pleased to offer all Americans access to hunting and fishing opportunities and other recreational activities on refuge and hatchery lands where they are compatible with our conservation management goals,” said USFWS Principal Deputy Director Margaret Everson. “This generations-old heritage of hunting and fishing is all about loving outdoor traditions and time spent with family.”
The final rule also revises and simplifies all refuge-specific hunting and fishing regulations in every state to better match state regulations and to standardize safe practices across each state.
The USFWS worked closely with the states in preparing the rule. To view a copy of the final rule and a complete list of all includedrefuges and hatcheries, click here.