by Karen Mehall Phillips - Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Fighting 24/7 for sportsmen’s access to public lands, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) partnered with Safari Club International, the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation yesterday to intervene and file motions to dismiss a Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for its 2020 decision to expand hunting and fishing on 2.3 million acres of public lands, accounting for outdoor opportunities on 106 national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries to mark the largest expansion in USFWS history.
For background, the CBD sued the USFWS in November 2021, falsely claiming the USFWS rule violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Environmental Policy Act requiring federal agencies to be accountable to the public for the environmental impacts of their actions. As the NRA noted in reporting on the Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service case in December, the USFWS has never set out to imperil vulnerable fish and wildlife species. It was doing its job as the federal agency responsible for “working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.”
“The National Wildlife Refuge System was created to increase opportunities for families to engage in traditional outdoor actives, including hunting, fishing, hiking and more,” explained Erica Tergeson, NRA-ILA Director of Hunting Policy, in commenting on the NRA’s lawsuit. “Denying access to more than 2.3 million acres runs counter to the entire concept of public lands."
Lauding the USFWS’ 2020 rule, Tergeson concluded, “The NRA has always fought to ensure America's sportsmen and women have ample access to this country's great outdoors. On behalf of our more than 5 million members, we urge the courts to dismiss this blatant attempt to turn public lands private."
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