Warner Peak is the crest of Hart Mountain in southeast Oregon, reachable by a rugged, off-trail trek through the high desert wilderness.

Warner Peak is the crest of Hart Mountain in southeast Oregon, reachable by a rugged, off-trail trek through the High Desert wilderness. A new proposal would open up hunting at Hart Mountain and two other Oregon wildlife refuges that are managed by federal authorities.

A massive proposal to expand hunting and fishing in the U.S. would include three Oregon wildlife refuges.

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced the proposal Wednesday, which would expand hunting and fishing opportunities on more than 2.3 million acres of public recreation lands across the country, by opening up 97 national wildlife refuges and nine fish hatcheries.

In Oregon, the proposal would open up hunting at Hart Mountain, Nestucca Bay and Wapato Lake, three wildlife refuges managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The proposal also includes seven areas in Washington, including four fish hatcheries on or near the Columbia River.

If finalized, the expansion would bring the total amount of expanded U.S. hunting and fishing lands to nearly 4 million acres under the Trump administration, following an expansion of 1.4 million acres in 2019.

The proposed expansion comes as most public lands have closed to the public amid the coronavirus outbreak. Most national wildlife refuges have remained open, though visitor centers and facilities at the refuges have shut down.

“America’s hunters and anglers now have something significant to look forward to in the fall as we plan to open and expand hunting and fishing opportunities across more acreage nationwide than the entire state of Delaware,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said in a news release.

The expanded hunting opportunities in Oregon would include migratory bird, quail and partridge hunting at Hart Mountain, goose hunting at Nestucca Bay and migratory bird hunting at Wapato Lake.

The public has 60 days to comment on the proposal, starting Thursday. Details on how to submit comments will be posted online at www.regulations.gov, docket number FWS-HQ-NWRS-2020-0013.

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