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1.4 Million Acres of Public Land Opened for Hunting and Fishing

New Opportunities at 77 National Wildlife Refuges and 15 National Fish Hatcheries

Just a few days before the hunting season begins, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced new hunting and fishing opportunities on more than 1.4 million acres nationwide. 

“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,”

Secretary Bernhardt

This is a big win for sportsmen across the country. This addition is more than double the acreage that opened over the last five years combined. Seventy-seven national wildlife refuges and 15 national fish hatcheries are part of the expansion. These additions open up new land or game species across the nation. 

“We are pleased to offer all Americans access to hunting and fishing opportunities and other recreational activities on refuge and hatchery lands where they are compatible with our conservation management goals. This generations-old heritage of hunting and fishing is all about loving outdoor traditions and time spent with family,”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Margaret Everson

With the addition of the new lands, it brings the total number of National Wildlife Refuges where hunting is permitted to 381. You can find a complete list by state here. The National Fish Hatchery system grew to 316 lands that are open for hunting or sport fishing. Here is a full list of all the hatcheries.

New refuge opportunities include the opening of sport fishing at Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Pennsylvania for the first time, the opening of Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho to elk hunting for the first time on lands already open to other hunting, and the opening of Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming to migratory bird game hunting for the first time.

Expansions of refuge opportunities include at Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama and Mississippi, the expansion of season dates for existing migratory game bird hunting to align with state seasons, the opening of coot, crane and tundra swan hunting on acres already open to other hunting at Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Montana, and the expansion of existing sport fishing to new areas at Cedar Point National Wildlife Refuge in Ohio.

Final changes at hatcheries include the formal opening of lands on Dexter National Fish Hatchery in New Mexico to migratory game bird and upland game hunting, and Edenton National Fish Hatchery in North Carolina and Valley City National Fish Hatchery in North Dakota will formally open their lands to sport fishing. An update to hatchery regulations is also included in the final rule.

The final rule also outlines a comprehensive revision and simplification of all refuge-specific hunting and fishing regulations in all 50 states to more closely match state regulations while continuing to ensure safe and compatible opportunities. The Service worked closely with the states in preparing the rule.

A copy of the final rule and a complete list of all of the refuges and hatcheries are available online.

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