Hunting and Fishing

Man Fishing

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a final hunting and fishing plan for Potomac River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Complex in Virginia, the complex includes Mason Neck NWR, Occoquan Bay NWR, and Featherstone NWR.

A draft plan was issued earlier this spring, and during the 88-day public comment period, 85 comment letters were received from the public. We are grateful to the people who provided meaningful comments on the draft, which helped in developing the final plan.   

Some comments reflected an opposition to hunting and fishing in general and in particular on NWR lands. We understand and respect this viewpoint.  The legislation which guides how national wildlife refuges across the country are managed not only requires us to consider allowing wildlife observation, hunting, fishing, photography, environmental education, and interpretation, but further directs us to promote these activities when compatible with refuge purposes. Not one of these recreational uses have a priority over another – they are simply different ways people choose to enjoy the refuges and to engage themselves, their families, and their friends in the outdoors. 

A summary of all substantive comments, and our responses, can be found in Appendix E (Summary of Public Comments and Service Responses on the Draft Hunting and Recreational Fishing Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Potomac River National Wildlife Refuge Complex). No significant changes have been made between the draft and final versions of the Hunting and Fishing Plan. One minor change has been made: Waterfowl hunters may only use temporary floating blinds to hunt on Featherstone NWR.

We may begin to implement the Hunting and Fishing Plan for Potomac River NWR Complex upon publication of the final 2021-2022 Station-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations in the Federal Register. The final plan can be viewed via the link below:

Potomac River NWR Complex Hunting and Recreational Fishing Plan