Department of the Interior, via the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has opened and expanded 77 National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) to more hunting and fishing opportunities. Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, spoke about the newly opened and expanded lands:
“This is the largest single effort to expand hunting and fishing access in recent history. President Trump has made increasing public access and streamlining government functions priorities of his administration, and this new rule delivers on both fronts given the unprecedented expansion of public acreage and removal or revision of 5,000 hunting and fishing regulations to more closely match state laws. This is a big win for sportsmen and sportswomen across the country and our collective conservation efforts.”
Seven NWRs are open to hunting and fishing for the first time. The additional 70 areas have been expanded at this time to allow even greater hunting and fishing opportunities on public land. The full list of open and expanded areas can be viewed here.
If you have time to read a 681 dissertation on the regulation changes, you can read it here. The short version of this though is 2,100 regulations will be removed that have no impact on hunting. 2,900 regulations are being revised to adhere to the plain language standards set forth by President Trump.
Both the list of opened and expanded lands and the 2019-2020 Station-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations can be used together. The regulations are an in-depth guide to what is and isn’t allowed on the newly opened and expanded lands. If you have questions as to what is in season and able to be hunted on public lands, check the regulations guide.
But when there is good news for hunters, there will likely be some backlash from the political left. (See our other article on states suing the Trump Administration over a change in Endangered Species regulation). California had seven areas opened and expanded to hunting and fishing, sports the state hates. Arizona, New Mexico, Massachusetts, and Washington were also heavily expanded; all states that lean left politically with California. It will be interesting to see if these states challenge the new regulations in court.
Let us know if you are planning to hunt any of the new land and how your hunt went in the comments below!