Expanded Hunting and Fishing Access on National Wildlife Refuges

Mention "access" to anglers or hunters and they'll typically assume you mean restriction. That's not surprising, given the myriad of movements to limit where they can employ those hooks and bullets. But all is not bleak.

An encouraging report from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership describes a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to expand hunting and fishing opportunities throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The proposal includes initiating hunting programs on six refuges and expanding hunting and fishing programs on another 20. USFWS Director Dan Ashe said the plan represents "one of the largest expansions of hunting and fishing opportunities on wildlife refuges in recent years."

TRCP cites a USFWS survey that indicates more than 90 million Americans spent over $144 billion pursuing wildlife-related recreation in 2011. NWRs contribute greatly to these figures, as the USFWS can permit hunting and fishing in areas of refuges where they are compatible with the refuge's purpose and mission.

"Sportsmen and women were a major driving force behind the creation and expansion of the National Wildlife Refuge System more than a century ago and continue to be some of its strongest supporters, especially through their volunteer work and financial contributions," Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said. "Keeping our hunting and angling heritage strong by providing more opportunities on our refuges will not only help raise up a new generation of conservationists, but also support local businesses and create jobs in local communities."