Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke proposed opening and expanding hunting and fishing access on 10 national wildlife refuges Wednesday, according to a Department of the Interior (DOI) press release.
The refuges are located across eight states: Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will take comments on the proposal for 30 days, ending Sept. 8.
“As the steward of our public lands, one of my top priorities is to open up access wherever possible for hunting and fishing so that more families have the opportunity to pass down the heritage,” Zinke said. “The last thing I want to see is hunting and fishing become elite sports. These ten refuges will provide incredible opportunities for sportsmen and anglers across the country to access the land and connect with the wildlife.”
If finalized, hunting would be allowed on 373 refuges and 312 would allow fishing.
Zinke has championed expanding sportsmen’s access to public lands since his first day as secretary of the interior.
“Over the past eight years however, hunting, and recreation enthusiasts have seen trails closed and dramatic decreases in access to public lands across the board,” Zinke said in a statement a day after the Senate confirmed him as interior secretary. “It worries me to think about hunting and fishing becoming activities for the land-owning elite.”