WASHINGTON – As the federal shutdown closes in on two weeks, sportsmen received welcome news on Friday in the form of a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reopen millions of acres of waterfowl production areas to hunters.
While commending the decision, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership continues to urge Congress to end the shutdown – in the name of conservation and the nation’s outdoors-reliant economy.
The USFWS announcement coincides with pheasant openers in multiple states and occurs as communities across the country grapple with the absence of sportsmen and the economic boost brought about by hunters.
“As hunting seasons open – in the Great Plains and across the country – sportsmen’s calls have been heard, and the administration has acknowledged the economic impact of hunters and anglers,” TRCP President and CEO Whit Fosburgh said. “We commend the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for addressing the need for public access of these lands, and we urge Congress to take a similarly pragmatic approach in resolving the federal shutdown as quickly as possible.”
WPAs are grassland and wetland ecosystems reserved for wildlife, including waterfowl, and are funded mostly through the sale of federal duck stamps. More than 2 million acres of WPAs are concentrated in the prairie pothole region of Minnesota, Montana and the Dakotas.
“Conservation in America continues to suffer,” continued Fosburgh, “and no region better exemplifies the ongoing destruction and loss of important fish and wildlife habitat than the prairie pothole region where so many WPAs are located. Congress must reach an agreement to end this crisis and advance crucial conservation programs, including a federal farm bill, posthaste.”