As hunting season continues in Iowa, the state’s hunters and fishers will have more land for their use, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The opening of more federal land is part of the Trump administration’s effort to make public land more accessible. The FWS’s Margaret Everson said that 1.4 million acres were added to open areas this year, including at Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge east of Des Moines.
The U.S. Department of the Interior will also allow more big game hunting at De Soto Bend in western Iowa.
Everson visited Iowa last week to discuss the plan to permit hunting and fishing on more federal land nationwide. Hunting and fishing generate $1.5 billion for the state’s economy.
Ducks Unlimited CEO Adam Putnam praised the move, stating that more open land promotes outdoor recreation and conservation.
“Without that connection to the land, we’re not going to have a strong base of support for protecting the environment going forward,” he told Radio Iowa.
According to Everson, communities that rely on hunting and fishing will see more investment opportunities and job creation.
The increase in land availability trims federal hunting rules to where they are similar to state regulations. Federal officials believe that by doing so, more people will hunt or fish.
Putnam told KCCI that a passion develops from the first hunt or the first catch.
"When you fall in love either with your first waterfowl hunt or the first fish you catch, you're hooked for life," he said. "You become a lifelong conservationist, and protecting these spaces becomes a priority."
Iowa Department of Natural Resources head Kayla Lyon also approves of the expansion.
"Anytime we can create and increase access for folks to get outside and do things like hunting and fishing, that's great," she told KCCI.