Trump Admin Calls for Major Expansion of Hunting, Fishing in Wildlife Refuges, Including 7 in California

Ducks are seen at the Cullinan Ranch Unit in San Pablo Bay Refuge in a photo posted on the Facebook page for the San Francisco Bay NWR Complex in February 2015.

Ducks are seen at the Cullinan Ranch Unit in San Pablo Bay Refuge in a photo posted on the Facebook page for the San Francisco Bay NWR Complex in February 2015.

The Trump administration on Wednesday proposed opening up more federally protected land for hunting and fishing in what it called a major expansion of those activities in the nation’s wildlife refuges.

The plan affects 1.4 million acres (5,666 square kilometers) on federal public lands, including 74 national wildlife refuges, U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge along Lake Erie in northern Ohio.

That includes the following California refuges, according to the Interior Department:

  • Colusa National Wildlife Refuge: Open to wild turkey hunting for the first time on 1,639 acres already open to other hunting.

  • Delevan National Wildlife Refuge: Open to wild turkey hunting for the first time on 1,696 acres already open to other hunting.

  • Marin Islands National Wildlife Refuge: Open to sport fishing for the first time.

  • Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge: Open to wild turkey hunting for the first time on 1,371 acres already open to other hunting.

  • San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge: Expand season date ranges and method of take for existing migratory game bird hunting on 9,726 acres to further align with state regulations.

  • Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge: Open sport fishing for the first time on acres already open to other activities.

  • Sutter National Wildlife Refuge: Open to wild turkey hunting for the first time on 839 acres already open to other hunting.

The proposal would allow hunting and fishing for the first time at 15 national fish hatcheries. The department also wants to revise hunting and fishing rules at refuges in all states to more closely match state regulations.

Interior Department land managers were told last September to review hunting and fishing regulations to determine where they conflict with state regulations, with a goal of deferring to state management unless they clash with federal law.

A comprehensive review of federal and state rules is something that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had never been done before, Bernhardt said.

Under the proposed expansion at sites in 46 states, the number of wildlife refuges where hunting would be allowed would increase by five to 382 while fishing would be allowed at 316 locations.

“It’s a dramatic statement about our commitment to access,” Bernhardt said, adding: “The goal is to get more people out.”

Lack of access to hunting and fishing sites is one of the most common reasons people don’t begin those activities, Bernhardt said.

One of the new refuges where hunting and fishing would be allowed is Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin. Deer and elk hunting would be allowed for the first time at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge.

The expansion is the largest proposed by the administration to date, Bernhardt said.

The plan is to finalize the proposal by September after public comment.

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