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The Bush Administration Plans to Add 10 New Hunting and Fishing Programs on National Wildlife Refuges and Wetland Management Districts



July 22, 2004

Steve Farrell, 703-358-2029
Cindy Hoffman,


The Bush Administration plans to open new hunting and fishing programs on 10 national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Carolina and South Dakota as part of its annual Refuge-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations. With the changes in this proposed rule, there will be 325 public hunting programs and 283 public fishing programs on national wildlife refuges.

"With this proposal, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will have launched over 60 new hunting and fishing programs on national wildlife refuges since 2001, enhancing access and opportunity for millions of Americans to enjoy their favorite outdoor traditions," said Service Director Steve Williams.

"By providing greater recreational access through over 60 new hunting and fishing programs on national wildliferefuges, the President is expanding the number of citizenstewards--hikers, anglers, bird-watchers and hunters-- who will visit,enjoy, and help care for these vibrant public resources,” said James L. Connaughton, Chairman, White House Council on Environmental Quality.

The Service is proposing to add the following refuges and wetland management districts (WMD) to the agency's list of units open for hunting and/or fishing: Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in South Carolina; Mountain Longleaf NWR in Alabama; Red River NWR in Louisiana; Cypress Creek NWR in Illinois; Huron, Lake Andes, Madison, Sand Lake, Waubay WMDs in South Dakota; and Devils Lake WMD in North Dakota.

In addition, the Service is also proposing to expand recreational hunting and fishing opportunities on seven refuges in Nebraska, Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, Louisiana, Georgia, and South Carolina.

In 2003, there were 2.2 million hunting visits to national wildlife refuges and 6.6 million fishing visits. By law, hunting and fishing are two of the six priority wildlife-dependent recreational uses on national wildlife refuges, and individual refuges are encouraged to provide opportunities to hunt and fish whenever they are compatible with the refuge's conservation goals. The Service annually reviews hunting and fishing programs on national wildlife refuges to determine whether to add, modify or remove them.

President Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge in 1903 when he ordered Pelican Island, a small shell- and mangrove-covered island in Florida's Indian River, to be protected forever as a "preserve and breeding ground for native birds." More than a century later, the refuge system has grown to nearly 100 million acres and includes 544 refuges BB at least one in every state BB and more than 3,000 waterfowl production areas.

National wildlife refuges provide unparalleled outdoor activities, including fishing, hunting, environmental education and interpretation, wildlife observation and photography. Many refuges also offer opportunities for nature hikes, birding tours, and other activities. There is at least one national wildlife refuge within an hour's drive of most major cities.

The full text of the Refuge-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations can be found on the Internet by visiting and clicking on the link to "Policies and Budget."

Newly Proposed Hunting/Fishing Programs at National Wildlife Refuges:

Sportfishing: Waccamaw NWR, South Carolina; Red River NWR, Louisiana; Cypress Creek NWR, Illinois; Huron, Lake Andes, Madison, Sand Lake, and Waubay Wetland Management Districts, South Dakota; and Devils Lake WMD, North Dakota.

Migratory Bird, Upland Game, and Big Game Hunting: Waccamaw NWR, South Carolina; Mountain Longleaf NWR, Alabama; Red River NWR, Louisiana; Huron, Lake Andes, Madison, Sand Lake, and Waubay WMDs, South Dakota; Devils Lake WMD, North Dakota.

Proposed Expanded Programs at Refuges Already Open to Hunting and Fishing:

Migratory Birds: Crescent Lake NWR, Nebraska; Cross Creeks and Tennessee NWRs, Tennessee; Big Oaks NWR, Indiana; Savannah NWR, Georgia and South Carolina;

Upland Game: Trinity River NWR, Texas; Big Oaks NWR, Indiana; Big Branch Marsh NWR, Louisiana;

Big Game: Trinity River NWR

The proposed rule announcing the new programs, modifications, and administrative changes was published recently in the Federal Register. The public comment period is open for 30 days and will close July 30, 2004.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the nearly 100-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

Photos for the event are available at --

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