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USFWS Proposes Adding More Hunting, Fishing Ops At 2 Western Oregon Refuges

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Oregon hunters and anglers could have additional opportunities on two National Wildlife Refuges as early as this fall.

In the proposal announced Wednesday by U.S. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge would open bank fishing access on the Siletz River, and Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge would add a youth waterfowl hunt beginning in 2018.

GEESE FLY OVER BASKETT SLOUGH NWR, WHERE FEDERAL MANAGERS WANT TO ADD YOUTH WATERFOWL HUNTING OPPORTUNITIES. (GEORGE GENTRY, USFWS)

“We’re always looking for opportunities to expand public access at our National Wildlife Refuges, and these are two great opportunities,” said Kevin Foerster, Chief of Refuges for the Pacific Region. “Because of our focus on habitat management, we have some of the best hunting and fishing opportunities on public land. Some of the most prized hunting tags in the state of Oregon are on refuges, including antelope at Hart Mountain and mule deer at Umatilla.”

Secretary Zinke’s proposal would open or expand opportunities at 10 national wildlife refuges nationwide. If finalized, this would bring the number of refuges where the public may hunt up to 373, and up to 312 where fishing would be permitted.

“I grew up in the mountains of northwest Montana, where I spent my time hunting and fishing on our shared public lands. I was lucky to take my boys out on the same land that my dad and granddad took me,” Secretary Zinke said. “As the steward of our public lands, one of my top priorities is to open up access wherever possible for hunting and fishing so that more families have the opportunity to pass down the heritage. The last thing I want to see is hunting and fishing become elite sports. These 10 refuges will provide incredible opportunities for sportsmen and anglers across the country to access the land and connect with the wildlife.”

Siletz Bay NWR, located south of Lincoln City, proposed walk-in access for bank fishing on the Siletz River, which has coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout. The refuge opened the Alder Island trail this spring, which offers easy access to the river.  The 568-acre refuge also offers seasonal waterfowl hunting in designated areas.

“We’re excited that more people will be able to use the refuge for fishing,” said Kelly Moroney, project leader for the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex. “We hope to get it approved in time for fall fishing.”

Baskett Slough, a 2,492-acre refuge located west of Salem, proposed to add a 10-person youth waterfowl hunt beginning in fall of 2018. The hunt would follow Oregon state hunting regulations.

“This is a great opportunity to introduce the next generation to quality hunting,” said Laila Lienesch, deputy project leader for the Willamette Valley Refuge Complex. “We already have fantastic elk and black-tail deer hunting at William L. Finley Refuge, so this adds another hunting opportunity to our refuge complex in the Willamette Valley.”

Hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities contributed more than $144.7 billion in economic activity across the United States, according to the Service’s National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, published every five years. More than 90 million Americans, or 41 percent of the United States’ population 16 and older, pursue wildlife-related recreation.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages hunting and fishing programs to ensure sustainable wildlife populations while also offering other traditional wildlife-dependent recreation on public lands, such as wildlife watching and photography. The unparalleled network of 566 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts means there is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas.

For the national news release, go to http://bit.ly/2vPpMi6.