Earlier this week, America’s sportsmen and women got permission from Uncle Sam to hunt and fish on thousands of additional acres of public land. According to a recent press release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 26 National Wildlife Refuges will either be opened up to hunting and fishing for the first time or have opportunities expanded. Currently, regulated hunting is allowed on more the 335 wildlife refuges, while anglers can fish on more than 271 different complexes within the National Wildlife Refuge system.

“For more than a century, hunters and anglers have been the backbone of conservation in this country and a driving force behind the expansion of the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “By providing more hunting and fishing opportunities on refuges, we are supporting a great recreational heritage passed down from generation to generation, creating economic growth in local communities and helping to ensure that conservation stays strong in America.”

Among the refuges opening to hunting for the first time include New York’s Shawangunk Grasslands NWR, which will now be open to big-game hunting. Also, Pennsylvania’s Cherry Valley NWR will host turkey hunters this spring, and be open to upland bird hunting, migratory bird hunting, and big-game hunting, starting next fall. Certain refuges in Oregon and Wyoming will also allow hunting this coming fall.

“Hunting and fishing are time-honored ways to enjoy the outdoors and teach people to value nature,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife director Dan Ashe. “Our National Wildlife Refuge System has millions of acres of public land and water to provide quality hunting and fishing experiences. We hope these expanded hunting and fishing programs will allow more Americans to experience this connection with nature.”

To read the entire release and see a list of new and expanded outdoor opportunities on National Wildlife Refuges, click here.