SAGINAW, Mich. (WLNS) – Federal officials opened and expanded hunting and fishing at 147 national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries.
The announcement today by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is the single largest expansion by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in history.
The opening and expansion are across 2.3 million acres at 138 national wildlife refuges and nine national fish hatcheries.
“On the heels of President Trump signing the most significant conservation and recreation funding in US history, providing nearly $20 billion over the next 10 years to fix and conserve the American people’s public lands, the Trump Administration has now made an additional 2.3 million acres accessible to new hunting and fishing opportunities,” said Secretary Bernhardt.
This proposal would bring the Trump Administration’s total expansion to over 4 million acres nationwide including last year’s expansion of 1.4 million acres, according to a press release by the Department of the Interior.
America’s sportsmen and women generated nearly $1 billion in excise tax collections on hunting, shooting and fishing equipment as well as boat fuel that is distributed to all 50 states and U.S. territories by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Additionally, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities contributed more than $156 billion in economic activity in communities across the United States in 2016, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.
“Hunting and fishing are a part of our American history,” said Service Director Aurelia Skipwith. “Furthermore, we have maintained our commitment to promoting good government by reducing the regulatory burden by working with states to facilitate these outdoor activities.”
The final rule opens or expands 859 hunting and fishing opportunities where an opportunity is defined as one species on one field station in one state.
Changes at hatcheries include the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery in Michigan which opens up migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting, and big game hunting for the first time.
There are 70 national fish hatcheries visited by more than one million people each year. Hatcheries offer opportunities for viewing the operations and learning about fish.
Michigan has six state fish hatcheries that produce millions of fish that stock public waterbodies each year.
More than 101 million Americans or 40% of the U.S. population age 16 and older enjoy wildlife-related recreation.
The National Wildlife Refuge System is a network of 568 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts. The Refuge System receives more than 59 million annual visits.
National wildlife refuges provide vital habitat for thousands of species and access to world-class recreation, according to a press release from the Department of Interior.