Zinke Expands Hunters’ Access to Public Lands

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signs orders on his first day in office Thursday. (Photo: Department of Interior)

(CN) – On his first day in office Thursday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed two orders on issues the native Montanan holds dear: hunting, fishing and access to public lands.

Zinke’s first two orders expand access to public lands and increase hunting, fishing and recreation opportunities nationwide, according to a statement from the Department of Interior.

“Outdoor recreation is about both our heritage and our economy. Between hunting, fishing, motorized recreation, camping and more, the industry generates thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity,” Zinke said in a statement. “Over the past eight years however, hunting, and recreation enthusiasts have seen trails closed and dramatic decreases in access to public lands across the board. It worries me to think about hunting and fishing becoming activities for the land-owning elite. This package of secretarial orders will expand access for outdoor enthusiasts and also make sure the community’s voice is heard.”

Secretarial Order 3346 advances conservation stewardship, improves game and habitat management, and increases outdoor recreation opportunities by directing bureaus and agencies to immediately identify areas where recreation and fishing can be expanded. The order also requests input from the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council and Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council to provide recommendations on enhancing and expanding access on public lands and improving habitat for fish and wildlife.

Secretarial Order 3347 overturns the ban on lead ammunition and fishing tackle used on Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters.

The ban was first enacted to reduce harmful effects on waterfowl and fish that ingest lead tackle or lead shotgun pellets. More than two dozen states have enacted laws that go beyond the federal restriction.

Environmental groups blasted Zinke’s decision, while gun groups and sportsmen’s organizations praised it.

Sarah Greenberger, the Audubon Society’s vice president of conservation and a former Interior Department official, said, “Lead ammo can kill birds long after it’s been fired from a gun. Banning toxic ammunition in wildlife refuges allowed species like the California Condor to return from the brink of extinction. If Secretary Zinke has concerns with the process through which the ban was implemented, Audubon looks forward to working with him in a new effort to protect birds and the places they need, using the best available science.”

 

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