WASHINGTON — Sept. 23, 2017 is National Hunting and Fishing Day. The Presidential Proclamation identifies the fourth Saturday in September as a day to recognize hunting, fishing, and sports shooting, and the contributions the sportsmen and women that pursue them make to outdoor and wildlife conservation.
“Growing up hunting and fishing on the family farm in Alabama, I was very fortunate to have many mentors—my father, my uncles, family friends, and neighbors—that taught me not only hunting and fishing, but a love and appreciation for the outdoors, and for conservation,” said Tony Tooke, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. “My father was particularly influential. He taught us his love for the land; and we worked hard every day to take care of our trees and fields so they could provide for us."
The Forest Service recognizes many uses for National Forest System lands. Among these, many are activities like hunting, fishing, and sports shooting. For many Americans, these are not just recreation activities, but an opportunity to feed their families. With this deep connection of tradition, experience, and necessity comes a reverence for the ongoing health and resilience of the lands that give so much.
In fact, hunters, anglers, and sports shooters support an enormous economic generator when they hunt, fish, or shoot on public lands. Fishing sustains more than 287,000 jobs, and generates nearly $36 billion in retail spending annually. Hunting supports nearly 195,000 jobs and contributes more than $27 billion a year in retail spending. Wildlife viewing sustains nearly 236,000 jobs and generates more than $30 billion in retail spending.
Over the past five years, visitors to National Forest System lands have made an estimated 14.7 million fishing trips and nearly 9 million hunting trips, which contributes to a $10 billion recreation economy.
In terms of conservation, the Forest Service has long been a leader in careful stewardship of public lands. Much of this conservation ethic can be credited to the forbearers of the Forest Service, many of whom were enthusiastic outdoorsmen. Under the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt—an enthusiastic hunter and outdoorsman—the Forest Service was formed and the first Chief Forester, Gifford Pinchot, was himself an avid outdoorsman. The outdoor ethic that these men and their contemporaries held forged the core values of the U.S. Forest Service, and these are values shared by hunters, anglers, and sports shooters nationwide.
The theme of National Hunting and Fishing Day 2017 is “take the pledge,” asking experienced sportsmen and women everywhere to take someone new to experience hunting, fishing, and sports shooting as a way of connecting to the outdoors, and to the legacy of conservation that is revered by hunters, anglers, and sports shooter all over America.
The Forest Service boasts more than 150,000 miles of fishable streams, more than 10 million acres of lakes. Out of 193 million acres of land the Forest Service manages, almost all of it is open to hunting and sports shooting.
Chief Tooke invites Americans to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day by hunting, shooting, and fishing on their national forests and grasslands.