Safari Club International (SCI) applauds the recent proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that seeks to open or expand 2,084,538 acres of land within the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) and the National Fish Hatchery System (NFH) to hunting or sport fishing.
If enacted in full, the plan would open or expand 91 distinct hunting or fishing opportunities for Americans to enjoy, as well as reduce regulatory burdens for the public.
Hunters and anglers play a pivotal role in land, water, fish, and wildlife conservation in the U.S. and the NWRS is a key facilitator of these efforts. As of today, the NWRS is a network of 568 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts. The NWRS attracts more than 59 million visitors annually and the refuges provide vital habitat for thousands of species. Increased access to these lands directly translates to more access to world-class outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing.
There are 70 national fish hatcheries managed by the USFWS, and collectively they draw more than one million people each year. Hatcheries offer opportunities for viewing the operations and learning about fish species in addition to hosting some of the best fishing in the U.S.
The proposal is now subject to a 60-day public comment period. Anti-hunting groups have historically attacked initiatives that increase access to hunting and fishing opportunities. In order to ensure this proposal becomes operative, hunters and anglers across the U.S. need to make their voice heard during the USFWS’ comment period over the next two months.