SPAULDING TWP, MI — U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt says the federal government is expanding hunting and fishing opportunities at 147 national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries, including the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery in northern Michigan.
Speaking at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge Tuesday, Aug. 18, Bernhardt called the expansion — covering 2.3 million acres — the largest of its kind in the history of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
His remarks come after President Trump earlier this month signed the Great American Outdoors Act, which will devote nearly $3 billion a year to conservation projects, outdoor recreation and maintenance of national parks and other public lands following its overwhelming approval by both parties in Congress, according to the Associated Press.
“I spent way too much time (growing up) avoiding school, out hunting and fishing. I lived in a community that was surrounded by public lands,” Bernhardt said at the refuge, which was established in 1953 and contains 10,000 acres of marsh, bottomland hardwood forest, and grasslands. “Those public lands were everything to me. They were my playground. They were where my parents sent me when they were fed up with me.”
“I believe right now public lands play a critical (role). Maybe more critical than any time in our history … as people have sought respite comfort, inspiration and an opportunity to be outside,” he said.
The expansion of hunting and fishing in Michigan is limited to 74 acres at the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery near Elmira, which will open to migratory bird, upland game and big game hunting, but across the country, officials have said they are creating more than 850 “hunting and fishing opportunities” with the new or expanded access.
An opportunity is defined as one species on one field station in one state, officials said.
Although the expansion does not include the Shiawassee refuge, the preserve expanded hunting and fishing following the adoption of a separate federal rule in 2018-2019, which allowed fishing on navigable waterways and designated bank fishing locations, migratory bird hunting on 1,147 acres, and small game and wild turkey hunting on 4,352 acres, according to the Interior Department.
The refuge is also undertaking some deferred maintenance projects, including repair of a pump house, which helps improve water management and to restore the natural flow patterns and drainage to help with conservation of migratory bird populations, Bernhardt’s staff said.
A complete list of all refuges and hatcheries opening or expanding hunting or fishing is available in an online list and map from the Interior Department.
Among them are the opening of migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting, big game hunting and sport fishing at Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge in Florida for the first time; the opening of Bamforth National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming to upland game and big game hunting for the first time; and the opening of sport fishing for the first time and the expansion of existing migratory bird, upland game and big game hunting to new acres at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia.
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