Zinke signs order to support sportsmen and enhance wildlife conservation

RBC | U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed Secretarial Order 3356, which will support and expand hunting and fishing, enhance conservation stewardship, improve wildlife management, and increase outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans. Secretarial Order 3356 is an extension of Secretarial Order 3347, issued on Zinke’s first day, March 2, 2017. That order identified a slate of actions for the restoration of the American sportsmen conservation ethic, which was established by President Theodore Roosevelt.
The new order comes days after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a survey that found there are 2.2 million fewer hunters in America now than in 2011. The order seeks to improve wildlife management and conservation, increase access to public lands for hunting, shooting, and fishing, and puts a new and a greater emphasis on recruiting and retaining new sportsmen conservationists, with a focus on engaging youths, veterans, minorities, and other communities that traditionally have low participation in outdoor recreation activities.
“Hunting and fishing is a cornerstone of the American tradition and hunters and fishers of America are the backbone of land and wildlife conservation,” said Secretary Zinke. “The more people we can get outdoors, the better things will be for our public lands. As someone who grew up hunting and fishing on our public lands—packing bologna sandwiches and heading out at 4 a.m. with my dad—I know how important it is to expand access to public lands for future generations. Some of my best memories are hunting deer or reeling in rainbow trout back home in Montana, and I think every American should be able to have that experience.
“On behalf of the 5 million hunters, recreational shooters and members of the NRA, we commend Secretary Zinke for continuing to follow Teddy Roosevelt’s sportsman legacy by opening more land and water to hunting and target shooting,” said Chris Cox, Executive Director of the National Rifle Association. “In the past, management plans for federal lands have been put in place to ban hunting and shooting. Sportsmen and women can now breathe a sigh of relief that those days are over. This administration values access to public lands for sportsmen and we commend them for it.”
“For too long, sportsmen’s access to our federal lands has been restricted, with lost opportunity replacing the ability to enjoy many of our best outdoor spaces. This extension to Secretarial Order 3356 will go a long way to reversing that trend and help grow the next generation of hunters, fishermen, and recreational shooters,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “I appreciate this new order and am committed to working with Secretary Zinke and my colleagues to do everything we can to expand and enhance access to our federal lands for all Alaskans, and all Americans, so that we can continue our rich sportsmen’s heritage.”
“Restoring wildlife habitat and expanding opportunities for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation will help increase wildlife populations and connect millions of Americans with our nation’s natural treasures,” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Secretary Zinke’s order demonstrates his commitment to collaborate closely with conservation organizations and state agencies to achieve these critical conservation outcomes. We look forward to working with the Secretary, the Department, and our conservation partners to recover America’s wildlife and connect every American with nature.”
“Secretary Zinke’s action today follows in the great tradition of President Teddy Roosevelt and recognizes the central role that hunters play in conservation and successful wildlife management,” said Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “The National Shooting Sports Foundation is deeply grateful to Secretary Zinke for the historic Secretarial Order that he signed.”
“We support Secretary Zinke’s order to expand opportunities for hunters and anglers on BLM, Fish and Wildlife Service and Park Service lands as well as on private lands,” said David Allen, President and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “Access to quality wildlife habitat remains one of the most significant factors impacting hunting and fishing participation throughout the country. This order will help ensure sportsmen and women continue to have opportunities for quality recreational experiences on public lands and potentially private lands.”
On his first day in office, Secretary Zinke reversed an order that would have banned lead ammo and tackle on National Wildlife Refuge lands, and he began the process of expanding hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands across the department.
In August, the Secretary announced a proposal to expand hunting and fishing opportunities at 10 national wildlife refuges, and he announced the initial stages of a plan to acquire land to make the Bureau of Land Management Sabinoso Wilderness Area accessible for the first time ever to hunters, hikers, and wildlife watchers.
In addition, Secretary Zinke recently made recommendations to President Trump on 27 national monuments that call for changes to some that, while still protecting the land, would also protect and expand public access to that land for citizens who want to hunt, fish, and hike and experience the joy and beauty of these special places.