In a ground-breaking move, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued an order today that directs the overseers of millions of acres of Federal lands to come up with plans to expand access for hunters and fishermen.
“Hunting and fishing is a cornerstone of the American tradition and hunters and fishers of America are the backbone of land and wildlife conservation,” said Secretary Zinke. “The more people we can get outdoors, the better things will be for our public lands. As someone who grew up hunting and fishing on our public lands – packing bologna sandwiches and heading out at 4AM with my dad – I know how important it is to expand access to public lands for future generations. Some of my best memories are hunting deer or reeling in rainbow trout back home in Montana, and I think every American should be able to have that experience.”
“We are delighted with this action by Secretary Zinke,” said SCI President Paul Babaz. “It will give American sportsmen and women much greater opportunity to hunt and fish on the lands that belong to all of us, and will assure the conservation of wildlife on those lands well into the future.”
Recognizing the critical role hunters play in conservation, Secretarial Order 3356 directs bureaus within the department to:
- Within 120 days produce a plan to expand access for hunting and fishing on BLM, USFWS and NPS land.
- Amend national monument management plans to ensure the public’s right to hunt, fish and target shoot.
- Expand educational outreach programs for underrepresented communities such as veterans, minorities, and youth.
- In a manner that respects the rights and privacy of the owners of non-public lands, identify lands within their purview where access to Department lands, particularly access for hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and other forms of outdoor recreation, is currently limited (including areas of Department land that may be impractical or effectively impossible to access via public roads or trails under current conditions, but where there may be an opportunity to gain access through an easement, right-of-way, or acquisition), and provide a report detailing such lands to the Deputy Secretary.
- Within 365 days, cooperate, coordinate, create, make available, and continuously update online a single “one stop” Department site database of available opportunities for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting on Department lands.
- Improve wildlife management through collaboration with state, Tribal, territorial, and conservation partners.
“The Secretary’s actions today target some of the most important obstacles to hunting in the United States,” said Anna Seidman, SCI’s Director of Governmental Affairs in the nation’s Capital. “His focus on increased access, better education and volunteer activities will help provide greater opportunities for current hunters and encouragement for new and future hunters. SCI looks forward to working with the Secretary and the Department of the Interior on these new projects.”
SCI’s advocacy staff on Capitol Hill worked closely with other groups and government officials to help realize this historic change of direction by the U.S. federal government.