ND wildlife refuges opened to sport fishing for first time

Staff Writer
Devils Lake Journal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Heidi Heitkamp's office and Congressman Kevin Cramer's office announced recently for the first time sport fishing will be allowed on four national wildlife refuges in North Dakota.  They are the Ardoch, Lake Alice, Rose Lake and Silver Lake refuges, which are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), a division of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).   This change in policy is effective immediately.

According to the North Dakota State Game and Fish Department, more than 222,000 fishing licenses were sold last year, an increase of 3,000 from 2013-2014.  The more than 560 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts managed by the NWRS offer hunting and fishing programs to ensure sustainable wildlife populations, while offering traditional wildlife-dependent recreation on public lands.

Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997,hunting and fishing is permitted, along with four other types of wildlife-dependent recreation, when they are compatible with an individual refuge’s purpose and mission. Hunting, within specified limits, is now permitted on 336 wildlife refuges. Fishing is now permitted on 275 wildlife refuges.

 The Service’s report Banking on Nature shows that refuges pumped $2.4 billion into the economy in 2013 and supported more than 35,000 jobs. More than 47 million people visit national refuges every year.

Details of Sport Fishing for North Dakota Refuges (Source - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Ardoch National Wildlife Refuge - Allows shore fishing and ice fishing on designated areas of the refuge in accordance with State regulations and subject to the following conditions:

1. Allows vehicles and fish houses on the ice as conditions allow. Restricts vehicle use to nonvegetated ice areas and designated roads.

2. Prohibits boats on the refuge.

Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge - Allows ice fishing in designated areas of the refuge in accordance with State regulations and subject to the following conditions:

1. Allows vehicles and fish houses on the ice as conditions allow. Restricts vehicle use to nonvegetated ice areas and designated roads

2. Allows public access for ice fishing from 5:00 a.m. local time to 10:00 p.m. local time.

3. Requires removing ice fishing shelters and personal property from the refuge by 10:00 p.m. local time each day.

4. Prohibits unattended fish houses in uplands or in parking areas.

Rose Lake National Wildlife Refuge - Allows fishing on designated areas of the refuge in accordance with State regulations and subject to the following conditions:

1. Allows vehicles and fish houses on the ice as conditions allow. Restricts vehicle use to nonvegetated ice areas and designated roads

2. Allows boats on refuge waters south of Nelson County Road 23; prohibits boats on other refuge waters.

3. Requires that shore anglers park vehicles in the designated parking lot.

Silver Lake National Wildlife Refuge - Allows fishing on designated areas of the refuge in accordance with State regulations and subject to the following conditions:

1. Allows vehicles and fish houses on the ice as conditions allow. Restricts vehicle use to nonvegetated ice areas and designated roads.

2. Allows boats on Silver Lake and on refuge waters south of the confluence of the Mauvais Coulee and Little Coulee from May 1 through September 30 of each year.

3. Prohibits water activities not related to fishing (e.g., sailing, skiing, tubing, etc.).