Keep public lands and waters open, a letter from outdoor recreation organizations

Posted Wednesday April 08, 2020 by wf_admin

April 8, 2020


Dear (Governor/Mayor/Etc.):


Our hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and other outdoor recreation organizations are writing to offer our help and ideas for maintaining safe and appropriate access to nature during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the entire country, we are concerned, careful, and committed to effective responses to the COVID-19 virus in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.  We deeply appreciate your current burden of leadership and efforts to find and implement solutions medically, economically, and socially.  Our organizations will help however possible and hope for good health for you and your communities.

The outdoors is where we are most able to help.  At parks, wildlife management areas, lakes, and other places, we ask for your consideration in keeping managed-use facilities, boat launches, hunting and fishing areas, and viewing areas open to the general public.  Barring localized situations that may justify closures, we urge a general policy of maintaining open access which will help families through this challenging time. Nature is an ideal place to keep safe distances among people while simultaneously allowing citizens educational and recreational experiences that provide health, and hope. Now, more than ever, Americans need to have the ability to access these lands for a variety of reasons, including hunting and fishing to provide food for their families.

In particular, please consider maintaining the openness of opportunities for the hunting of spring turkey and bear, and other in-season species, as well as fishing and recreational shooting opportunities that are timely right now.  The spring hunting season is upon us, and if your state’s wildlife management areas and other public lands remain open, this will provide an opportunity for the solitary and safe pursuit of hunting.  Fishing also keeps people at a safe distance apart and can help sustain the economy if tackle shops remain open as essential businesses.  Several states have temporarily waived fishing license requirements (but not limits), or withheld trout stocking announcements (which attract crowds), or opened seasons early (to reduce risk of crowding).  Recreational shooters are practicing social distancing at ranges that remain open and also play a strong economic role by generating the federal excise tax revenue that drives the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF).

In recent weeks, many of our organizations have communicated with our members, as well as federal and state policy makers, to encourage safe social distancing practices while enjoying the outdoors. As such, a social media campaign known as #ResponsibleRecreation is underway to encourage the public to act responsibly as they enjoy the outdoors.  Similarly, we can support your efforts through our webpages and social media channels by distributing information on available points of access and guidance on safety.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter and diligence in facing the crisis.



American Sportfishing Association

American Woodcock Society

Archery Trade Association

Bass Anglers Sportsman Society

Boone and Crockett Club

California Waterfowl

Campfire Club of America

Center for Sportfishing Policy

Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation

Conservation Force

Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports
Dallas Safari Club

Delta Waterfowl Foundation

Ducks Unlimited

Fishing League Worldwide

Houston Safari Club

International Game Fish Association

Izaak Walton League of America

Marine Retailers Association of the Americas

Masters of Foxhounds Association

Mule Deer Foundation

National Association of Charterboat Operators

National Association of Forest Service Retirees

National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative

National Marine Manufacturers Association

National Professional Anglers Association

National Rifle Association

National Shooting Sports Foundation

National Wildlife Federation

National Wild Turkey Federation

North American Grouse Partnership

North American Falconers Association

Orion – The Hunter’s Institute

Pheasants Forever, Inc.

Pope and Young Club

Professional Guides and Outfitters Association

Quail Forever

Quality Deer Management Association

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Ruffed Grouse Society

Safari Club International

Sportsmen’s Alliance

Texas Wildlife Association

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

Tread Lightly!

Trout Unlimited

Whitetails Unlimited

Wild Sheep Foundation

Wildlife Forever

Wildlife Management Institute

Wildlife Mississippi