An exciting announcement for public lands users came down the newswire last week, this time with positive news for sportsmen and women looking for new lands and fisheries to explore. The US Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced an increase of 2.1 million acres that will now be open to public recreation and use.
The expansion increased the number of National Wildlife Refuges where the public may hunt up to 434. Fishing is now be permitted at 378 refuges. And the total number of Fish Hatchery units open to hunting or fishing now increases to 22.
“[The] announcement furthers a rich tradition of providing quality outdoor recreation experiences to the American people on our public lands,” said USFWS Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams. “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.”
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 USFWS National Survey of Fishing. This recent expansion in public access aims to bolster that growth as a part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s America the Beautiful initiative, a locally-led and voluntary, nationwide effort to conserve, connect, and restore 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030.
You can read more about the expansion and its impacts, check out this article from Field and Stream!