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GLIN==> REFUGE WATERFOWL HUNTING, SALTWATER FISHING SURGE 1994-1998




--------------- cc:Mail Forwarded ---------------
From:     NEWS@fws.gov AT FWS
Date:     11/22/99 09:39 AM
To:       fws-news@www.fws.gov AT FWS
Subject:  REFUGE WATERFOWL HUNTING, SALTWATER FISHING SURGE 1994-1998


November 19, 1999
Eric Eckl
 202-208-5634

 NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGES FULFILL THEIR PROMISE
TO AMERICA'S HUNTERS AND ANGLERS
 WATERFOWL HUNTING, SALTWATER FISHING SURGE 1994-1998

Waterfowl hunting and saltwater fishing on national wildlife refuges across
the country have both surged by almost 75
percent
since 1993, according to statistics recently compiled by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service.  Participation in other types of hunting and
freshwater fishing held steady or grew modestly
over
the same period.

"More people are visiting refuges to hunt, fish, and otherwise enjoy and
learn about wildlife than ever before, and the list
of
refuges that welcome hunters, anglers, and other wildlife enthusiasts is
growing steadily," according to Director Jamie Rappaport Clark.

As urban areas expand, many rural areas and open spaces once
used
for outdoor recreation are giving way to subdivisions, shopping centers,
and other development.  As a result, national wildlife refuges are
supporting a greater share of the nation's wildlife populations -- its
fundamental mission -- and more Americans
are
relying on refuges for their outdoor recreation.  For example,
in
the "duck factory" of the upper Midwest, the refuge system accounts for
only 2 percent of the landscape, yet 23 percent of the region's waterfowl
breed there.

The refuge system has long had a special relationship with America's
outdoorsmen and women.  Many of its 93 million acres
were purchased with proceeds from the Federal Duck Stamp   a
required purchase for waterfowl hunting.  In this century, hunters and
anglers have left scores of new refuges as their conservation legacy,
refuges which in turn serve as pillars for hunting and fishing within and
beyond their boundaries.  For example, the Upper Mississippi Fish and
Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota -- established in the 1920s with help from the
Izaak Walton League -- now welcomes nearly a million hunters and anglers
every year.

"The national wildlife refuge system provides some of the
premier
hunting and fishing experiences available to sportsmen and
women
today," said Jim Mosher, the Izaak Walton League's Conservation Director.
"We applaud the work of the Service to continually expand the opportunities
for hunters and anglers on refuges across the country."

"More and more anglers are discovering that national wildlife refuges
provide outstanding saltwater experiences for both
novice
and experienced anglers alike," said Mike Hayden, President of the American
Sportfishing Association about the strong growth
in
coastal fishing on refuges.  "Refuge managers should be
applauded
for their work during the past few years to educate the public about
fishing opportunities, boat access and resource conservation.  The
increased usage of refuge waters by saltwater anglers is a clear indication
that these efforts are paying
off."

Today, 287 refuges offer some type of hunting, and 251 are open for
fishing. Many of these refuges celebrate National Fishing Week, National
Wildlife Refuge Week, and National Hunting and Fishing Day with fishing
derbies, special youth hunts, and
other
events that expose the next generation of conservationists to these sports.

A number of recent developments are expected to give refuge hunting and
fishing a further boost in coming years.

In 1997, President Clinton signed the system's first piece
of organic legislation, the National Wildlife Refuge System
Improvement Act, which designated hunting and fishing as two
of the six "priority public uses" on refuge lands.

Subsequent budget increases for fiscal years 1998 and 1999
have enabled the system to begin reducing a substantial
backlog of unmet maintenance needs, allowing refuges to
offer recreational programs more often and still meet their obligation to
put wildlife first.

Fulfilling the Promise, the system's roadmap and vision, finalized in
March, recommends a number of steps to improve visitor services by
increasing public use staff, expanding
public involvement in refuge decision making, and issuing
clear guidance to refuge managers for determining
appropriate and compatible public uses of the System.

The recently proposed "Compatibility Policy," encourages
managers to seek out the resources they need to offer
hunting and fishing programs if they are otherwise
compatible with the purpose of the refuge and the
conservation mission of the system. For example, a manager could approach a
local hunting or fishing organization for
assistance with the maintenance and upkeep of hunting blinds
or boat ramps if the refuge's own budget was insufficient.

"Hunting and fishing can instill in people a deep concern for
the
health of our natural resources," Clark said. "The refuge
system
will continue to serve as a pillar of these traditions and develop new
generations of Americans concerned about and
involved
in our wildlife heritage."

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 93- million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of
small
wetlands,
and other special management areas. It also operates 66
national
fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance 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.

                             -FWS-

Questions and Answers
Hunting and Fishing on National Wildlife Refuges

How much hunting and fishing occurs on National Wildlife Refuges?

A lot, and more every year. In 1994, there were just over 1.4 million
hunting visits, and just over 5 million fishing visits each year. By 1998,
those numbers had grown to almost 2 million hunting visits and almost 6
million fishing visits each year.
Out
of 520 national wildlife refuges, 287 are open for hunting, and 251 are
open for fishing.

Additional information about participation in hunting and
fishing
on national wildlife refuges as well as lists of the most
visited
refuges in the system appear below.

What about waterfowl production areas?

The Service's 3,000 waterfowl production areas   small wetland
units managed as part of the refuge system   are all open to
hunting and fishing. Nearly 800,000 people visit WPAs each year.

How can I learn which refuges offer hunting and fishing?

Point your browser to http://www.recreation.gov to learn about many types
of recreational activities, including hunting and fishing, that are
available on National Wildlife Refuges and other federal lands.

Why isn't every refuge open to hunting and fishing?

Hunting and fishing will not be allowed if they are compatible with the
purpose of each refuge and the conservation mission of the refuge system,
such as on refuges established to protect certain endangered species.  In
many cases, refuges simply
don't
have the appropriate habitat. For example, Desert National Wildlife Refuge
in Nevada does not offer public fishing. A
number
of refuges have been established on former military lands, and the presence
of unexploded ordnance makes public recreation in some areas unsafe.
Finally, some refuges simply don't have the personnel or financial
resources to offer hunting and fishing programs is a safe and responsible
way.

What does the law say about hunting and fishing on refuges?

The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997,
the
organic legislation of the system, designates hunting and
fishing
as two of the six "priority public uses" that receive preferential
treatment on national wildlife refuges. National refuge policy encourages
refuges to offer these opportunities
and
to seek out additional resources if needed to do so. With some exceptions,
most refuge hunting and fishing is conducted in accordance with regulations
set by the state wildlife
management
agencies.

Can hunters and anglers participate in the management of their local
refuge?

Yes. Refuges across the country are actively seeking the
opinions
of hunters and anglers as they embark on developing
Comprehensive
Conservation Plans that guide all aspects of refuge management, and will
also begin making "Compatibility Determinations" reviews of hunting,
fishing, and other public uses. Hunters and anglers with a particularly
strong interest in their local
refuge
should consider joining its support group. Often going by names such as
"Friends of ... National Wildlife Refuge," these groups play an
increasingly integral role in refuge management.

Hunting Visits to National Wildlife Refuges 1994-1998

Waterfowl

1994: 476,010
1995: 603,897
1996: 602,680
1997: 743,413
1998: 825,043

Upland Game

1994: 441,092
1995: 449,685
1996: 432,521
1997: 453,509
1998: 497,890

Big Game

1994: 520,212
1995: 538,469
1996: 461,463
1997: 546,296
1998: 542,721

Fishing Visits to National Wildlife Refuges 1994-1998

Freshwater

1994: 4,011,381
1995: 4,065,600
1996: 4,078,930
1997: 4,011,071
1998: 3,942,244

Saltwater

1994: 1,078,010
1995: 1,246,328
1996: 1,158,496
1997: 1,589,292
1998: 1,868,280

Five Top Five Refuges in 1998
Refuge System Unit, Location, and Number of Visits

Waterfowl Hunting

1. Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge
     Winona, MN, 159,076

2. Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge
    Bethel, AK,72,000

3. Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge
    Crossett, AR, 34,188

4. Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge
    Marion, IL, 33,500

5. Cache River National Wildlife Refuge
    Augusta, AR, 29,050

Upland Game Hunting

1. Litchfield Wetland Management District
    Litchfield, MN, 55,000

2. Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge
    Bethel, AK, 44,000

3. Sand Lake Wetland Management District
    Columbia, SD, 27,500

4. White River National Wildlife Refuge
    DeWitt, AR, 25,500

5. Huron Wetland Management District
    Seney, MI, 25,000

Big Game Hunting

1. Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge
    Lewistown, MT, 45,000

2. Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge
    Winona, MN, 33,800

3. Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge
    Tallulah, LA, 23,400

4. Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge
   Brooksville, MS, 19,217

5. Waubay Wetland Management District
    Waubay, SD, 15,250

Freshwater Fishing

1. Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge
     Winona, MN, 821,493

2. Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge
    Decatur, AL, 353,945

3. Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge
    Paris, TN, 314,395

4. Eufala National Wildlife Refuge
    Eufaula, AL, 225,785

5. Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge
    Crossett, AR, 222,315

Saltwater Fishing

1. Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
    Chincoteague, VA, 465,214

       2. Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
           Manteo, NC, 401,379

       3. Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge
           Savannah, GA, 111,506

       4.  Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge
            Chiefland, FL, 82,500

       5.  Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge
            Bethel, AK, 79,850


       Selected MOUs and Cooperative Agreements
       Refuge System and Outdoor Sporting and Conservation
       Organizations

       Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.)

       Fisheries Habitat Improvement, enhancement, protection, and
       development activities on Service lands

       Ducks Unlimited, Inc.

       To protect and properly manage wetlands, wetland habitats and
       optimize wildlife habitat condition.

       National Rifle Association of America

       Develop a framework for the NRA and its affiliates may cooperatively
       plan and accomplish mutually beneficial projects.

       National Wild Turkey Federation

       To maintain and enhance the productivity of wild turkeys and their
       natural habitats consistent with wildlife management
       goals
       on Service lands.

       Safari Club International

       To enhance wildlife conservation and recreational opportunities on
       national wildlife refuges

       Trout Unlimited, Inc

       To improve coldwater habitat and management of trout and salmon
       populations.

       Wildlife Forever

       To cooperate for the benefit of fish, wildlife, and habitat
       resources through information and outreach efforts.



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