Interior Secretary Bernhardt proposes increased opportunities
for sportsmen and women on 74 refuges, 15 fish hatcheries
MISSOULA, Mont. – Backcountry Hunters & Anglers commended Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt’s proposal to expand public hunting and fishing access at 74 national wildlife refuges and 15 national fish hatcheries, totaling 1.4 million acres of public lands and waters.
“Our outdoor traditions depend on opportunity,” said BHA President and CEO Land Tawney. “Sportsmen and women have been the primary funders of the national wildlife refuge system since its inception, and we appreciate Secretary Bernhardt’s acknowledgement that we should enjoy access commensurate with our dedication to these lands and waters. I became a lifelong duck hunter in the marshes of a national wildlife refuge here in Montana. These lands are and must remain an integral part of our hunting and fishing experiences.”
The National Wildlife Refuge System has been the domain of hunters and anglers since President Theodore Roosevelt’s designation of the first national wildlife refuge in 1903 at Pelican Island, Florida. Waterfowl hunter-generated funds from Duck Stamp sales have been responsible for the creation and expansion of hundreds of refuges since then. Wildlife biologists generally credit this program for the recovery of dozens of species dependent on healthy and secure habitat.
Secretary Bernhardt announced the rule proposal yesterday at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in Oak Harbor, Ohio. Nathan Voris, a BHA Ohio chapter board member, was in attendance.
“Secretary Bernhardt chose wisely when selecting Ohio’s own Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge as the location for his announcement,” said Voris, who lives in Akron. “The wildlife habitat here is excellent, with plenty of cover for small game, upland birds and of course waterfowl and whitetail. We are grateful to the secretary for his proposal, and we look forward to learning more about expanded fishing opportunities and improved public access in both Ottawa and Cedar Point national wildlife refuges.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will seek public comments on the proposed rule for 45 days. Visit www.regulations.gov, docket number: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2019-0040, for the opportunity to comment. The Service will seek to finalize the changes in time for the 2019-2020 hunting season.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the voice
for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.