April 03, 2014
Dan Ashe Q&A: The USFWS Director On Wolves, The Future of Hunting, and Open Country - 1
by Tony Hansen
Dan Ashe is one of those guys you ought to know but probably don't.
What makes the guy so special? Well, for starters he heads up the agency that controls about 307 million acres of publicly-owned lands, a good chunk of which is open to hunting and fishing.
Yeah, bet that got your attention.
Ashe is the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He's a political appointee which does mean that he is somewhat subject to the whims of the parties. But, he's not that kind of guy -- I think you'll agree after hearing his responses to some of the questions in this interview.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees some 150 million acres of land in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Over the past couple of years, we've seen hundreds of thousands of acres in the refuge system opened to public hunting and fishing. And while Ashe can't take all of the direct credit for that, it must be noted that the Director carries a lot of clout in those decisions. And Ashe has almost universally supported every single instance in which Refuge lands were recommended to be opened for hook-and-bullet pursuits.
Perhaps it's because he understands the importance of hunting and fishing to a sound, science-based management plan. Or perhaps it's because he's actually a hunter himself.
Regardless, Ashe is one of the good guys. Even if he has to live in the political realm.
About Open Country
Hunters and anglers across the nation consistently list one challenge as their primary obstacle to spending more time in the field: Access.
Outdoor Life's Open Country program aims to tackle that issue head on and with boots on the ground. The program highlights volunteer-driven efforts to improve access along with habitat improvements to make existing public lands even better places to hunt and fish. The program's goal is to substantially increase sportsman's access across the country by promoting events that make a difference.
Here on Open Country's blog page, contributors take a close look at access issues across the country. Some are public-policy discussions, where we investigate the nuances of public access. In other blogs, we shine a light on attempts to turn public recreation opportunities into private hunting and fishing domains. In still other blogs, we interview decision makers about access issues. Together, we fight for the ability of America's hunters and anglers to have a place to swing a gun or wet a line.
We promise the discussion is always lively, interesting, and fresh, so visit this page frequently to tune into the latest access issue.
The Open Country program culminates in grants and awards with top projects and participants being honored.