For those readers who enjoy outdoor sports and activities, there's good news from the US Department of the Interior. Secretary Ryan Zinke announced that 248,000 acres of National Wildlife Refuges will now be opened to the public (or expanded upon where they already exist).
Probably few men under 40 or so actually remember when hunting, fishing, and other recreational activities on federal government land was permitted and quite common. During the 1990's, however, environmental extremists who mostly had never been out much in the environment began to dominate policy. Their whole idea of conservation was basically to do nothing but let Nature take its course. And that course meant keeping humans out of public lands and waterways.
The results of those policies have included regular out-of-control wildfires and floods; various species dying off at alarming rates; invasive plant growths killing off the native habitats; and so forth. To make matters worse, drug traffickers found in these isolated spots a perfect locale for illegal laboratories. The pollution these criminals have caused has actually been responsible for killing off thousands of fish and other aquatic life.
Zinke, who is an outdoorsman himself---and a professional geologist besides---takes a different approach. He holds that public lands are for responsible public use. When nominated by President Trump, Zinke stated that reopening these lands would be one of his objectives. What has actually slowed down his program is that the damage done by nearly 30 years of neglect is extensive.
So the new National Wildlife Refuges to be reopened on the West Coast are the San Pablo Bay NWR in California and Cold Springs, Upper Klamath, and William L. Finley Refuges in Oregon.
San Pablo Bay has undergone extensive reclamation under Zinke's term and is a great locale for duck hunting. It will be opened for the first time ever for sport fishing. It's located about 45 miles north of San Francisco.
Cold Springs is another area where waterfowl are abundant and hunting opportunities have been expanded. DOI in conjunction with the University of Montana are trying to reintroduce breeding grounds for the osprey there.
Upper Klamath is in a remote area about 60 miles north of the California Border. Wildfowl hunting has been expanded on the reserve. It is most famous as a sport canoeing area.
William L. Finley Refuge is on Highway 99 about 12 miles south of Corvallis, Oregon. It is the site of an annual elk hunt. Fishing is open again now that the Oregon Chub has been taken off the Endangered Species List.
So whatever outdoor activities you like, stay tuned in because the opportunities are expanding.