Interior announces expansion of hunting and fishing rights across 2.1 million acres
The Interior Department on Monday announced an expansion of hunting and fishing rights across 2.1 million acres, which it tied to the Biden administration’s lands conservation target.
The announcement applies to a single national fish hatchery and 88 national wildlife refuges, according to an Interior announcement.
“Increasing access to outdoor recreation opportunities is essential to advancing the Administration’s commitment to the conservation stewardship of our public lands,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. “Responsible hunting and fishing helps to promote healthy wildlife habitats while boosting local recreation economies.”
“Today’s announcement furthers a rich tradition of providing quality outdoor recreation experiences to the American people on our public lands,” Service Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams said in a statement. “By expanding these opportunities, we are enhancing the lives of millions of Americans while stimulating the national economy to which hunting and fishing contribute significantly.”
The announcement comes just over a year after the Trump administration announced an expansion of hunting on 2.3 million acres at nearly 150 refuges and hatcheries.
Despite the greater acreage in the 2020 announcement, the department called the latest expansion the greatest in recent history in terms of total hunting and fishing “opportunities.” An Interior spokesperson told The Hill the 2020 expansion included only 859 new opportunities. The latest expansion will include 910 expanded or new opportunities, the department said.
The Biden administration in May announced a goal of preserving 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030, a target that the department said Monday’s announcement will further. To achieve that goal, the administration said it would take steps such as increasing outdoor recreation areas and conserving fish and wildlife habitats, with an eye toward voluntary incentives for fishers and hunters.
“This is really the kickoff of an interagency working group that’s going to be developing a plan, and that plan is going to look at the areas that we already know we’re conserving, what those efforts are, how we look at expanding our protected area database and using science to really tell us what kind of baseline we have and what we’re hoping to accomplish to ensure that we meet this goal,” White House Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy said at the time.