Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Proposed public use regulations improve hunting, fishing and recreation access

May 20, 2020

Contact(s):

Andrea Medeiros, 907-786-3695, andrea_medeiros@fws.gov



Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is proposing amendments to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge’s public use regulations to align with state regulations and improve access and opportunities for hunting, fishing and other public uses consistent with Secretary’s Orders (S.O.) 3347 and 3356.

“President Trump and Secretary Bernhardt have prioritized increasing access and opportunities for the public to experience our unforgettable public lands, including celebrating the heritage of hunting and fishing in our nation’s wildlife refuges. This proposed rule would make that priority a reality in one of the most iconic refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System, allowing this legacy of conservation to inspire generations of public land users on the breathtaking Kenai Peninsula,” said Service Director Aurelia Skipwith.

“These amendments represent years of cooperative work between the Service and the State of Alaska. Expanding recreational opportunities and state management in the magnificent Kenai Refuge benefits Alaskans and tourists alike, and I thank President Trump and Secretary Bernhardt for their commitment to listening to Alaskan voices,” said Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy.

“I appreciate the Department of the Interior’s efforts to align its management regulations with Alaska’s on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK), Chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “Alignment between federal and state regulators is common sense.” 

“I welcome the Department of the Interior’s efforts to align management and regulation with the State on the refuge,” said Senator Dan Sullivan (AK). “There is still much more work to be done, but this is an important step towards a better partnership between the Federal Government and Alaska.”

“Hunting, trapping, and other outdoor recreational activities are essential to Alaska’s culture,” said Congressman Don Young (AK-At Large). “Alaskans are responsible environmental stewards, and for too long, federal regulations have stood in the way of our state’s ability to properly manage the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. This proposed rule is welcome news for our outdoorsman and delicate ecosystem. I am grateful to Secretary Bernhardt and the Trump Administration for continuing their work to empower Alaskans to protect the unique state they call home.”

If adopted, the amendments would allow for:

  • state-regulated harvest of brown bears at registered bait stations;
  • state-regulated trapping;
  • the discharge of firearms along the Kenai and Russian rivers from November 1 to April 30 in accordance with state law;
  • increased access for the public using snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and utility task vehicles on certain lakes for ice fishing when there is adequate ice cover; and,
  • increased access for the public using bicycles and game carts.

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is Alaska’s most visited national wildlife refuge and provides countless opportunities for hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife observation and photography, camping, river floating and canoeing. The refuge’s regulations are intended to ensure safe, high-quality opportunities for public use, consistent with the Service’s responsibilities to conserve fish, wildlife and habitats in their natural diversity, protect cultural resources, steward designated wilderness, and provide continued opportunities for subsistence uses.

S.O. 3347 has advanced conservation stewardship, improved game and habitat management, and increased outdoor recreation opportunities since being signed in 2017, and this proposal would further those objectives. S.O. 3356 provides directives ensuring greater collaboration and consistency with state regulations, which is a cornerstone of this proposed rule.

The Service is seeking public comments on the draft Environmental Assessment and the proposed rule. In addition, we are soliciting information that would help inform the Service’s Regulatory Impact Analysis for this rulemaking, including information related to the costs and benefits associated with changes to Kenai National Wildlife Refuge public use regulations. For example, we are soliciting information or data that would help the Service quantify the economic effects associated with increasing opportunities for consumptive uses (e.g., harvest of brown bear at registered bait stations), including  impacts on non-consumptive uses (e.g., public safety, wildlife viewing and photography).

The proposed rule will publishing in the Federal Register in the coming days. Once published, it will be available on www.regulations.gov, search Docket Number: FWS-R7-NWRS-2017-0058, to review the proposed rule and draft Environmental Assessment and submit comments.

For more information about Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, visit http://www.fws.gov/refuge/kenai/.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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