The Trump administration has announced a new plan to open up federally protected land and wildlife refuges for hunting and fishing. The proposal would allow hunting and fishing for the first time at 15 national fish hatcheries, and revise hunting and fishing rules at refuges in all states to more closely match state regulations. U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who made the announcement on Wednesday at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge along Lake Erie in northern Ohio, said the plan is meant to encourage hunting and fishing as recreational activities. “It’s a dramatic statement about our commitment to access,” Bernhardt said, adding: “The goal is to get more people out.”
The plan would affect 1.4 million acres of federal lands across 46 states—the largest expansion proposed by the administration to date, according to Bernhardt. The number of wildlife refuges where hunting would be allowed would increase by five to 382, while fishing would be allowed at 316 locations. The administration reportedly expects to finalize the proposal by September after public comment.