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Secretary Bernhardt Works to Safely Reopen National Parks

Mia Anstine

Secretary Bernhardt, who visited us at the Mossy Oak booth during SHOT Show, joined President Trump at the White House on Wednesday, May 13, for an intimate meeting with government officials from Colorado and North Dakota. The group gave updates regarding plans to re-open areas in the two states.

Sec. Bernhard has been working directly with the Governors and communities of various states to ensure a safe re-opening of areas that have been shut down due to COVID-19. 

Secretary Bernhardt

“We’ve worked with local communities and our parks,” Bernhardt said. “My goal is that we’re right on the shoulder of the Governor.”

During a separate interview, W. Laird Hamberlin, CEO of Safari Club International, asked the Secretary, “How can we best amplify the great work that the Department of the Interior is doing?” 

As a hunting and outdoorsman himself, Bernhardt emphasized, “The most important thing we can do is ensure that people have an opportunity to see the wonderful experience that comes from the outdoors, that comes from participating in these pursuits, and making sure that we have folks that are going to fall in behind us to take part in these activities.”

We have 1.4 million acres of land administered by the National Park Service (NPS) that provide the opportunity for hunting and fishing. Come hunting season, we can hope for the availability to pursue wild game and help manage wildlife populations in these areas, and additionally, some of the best fishing during the summer months. Let’s hope our favorite locations are open for access.

All hunters and anglers are encouraged to recruit newbies into the outdoor experience. These people will eventually help fund important wildlife and conservation efforts. They’re also the people who will help to revive economies in the communities that have been impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns by patronizing local establishments and by purchasing outdoor gear.


The Secretary has been working directly with the health department in Larimer County, Colo. to bring over a dozen parks in their area online in a safe manner. 

“We’re all excited because recreating outdoors is safe and healthy,” Governor Jared Polis said. “The flip side is, we’re not yet ready to have all the people from other states and other countries coming in, so that’s the balance.”

The Governor indicated that the state of Colorado will continue to open based on the needs of individual communities.

North Dakota

Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota expressed sincere thanks to Sec. Bernhardt, indicating that he’s been doing a fantastic job interacting in regard to the National Parks in his state. They’re currently planning to reopen Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Presidential Library along with other areas. 

Burgum shares that the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have been great partners to work with. They’ve all coordinated with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) where the lands share geography with the five tribal nations that are headquartered in North Dakota. The agencies are, and have been, collaborating with those tribal leaders in providing testing through COVID-19 and are working on a safe plan for reopening. 

Additional National Parks Information

During the informative meeting at the White House, Sec. Bernhardt also announced that the NPS is moving forward with a timeline for reopening Yellowstone National Park. He also sent out a tweet indicating that Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, “will begin welcoming the public back next week!” 

Secretary Bernhardt tweet

This is a gradual re-opening of national parks areas in the U.S. Toward the end of April, Secretary Bernhardt released a statement regarding the three-fold plan for reopening the national parks stating, “The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers and partners continues to be paramount. Across the 500 million acres of public lands stewarded by the Department of the Interior, an overwhelming majority of these lands have remained safely accessible to the American public.

“President Trump recognizes the magnificence and grandeur of our National Park System and our ability to restore access to these lands in a safe manner. As National Park Week draws to an end, it is time the American people once again enjoy the incredible benefits of the great outdoors at our national parks, and we will be making that happen while working with our nation’s governors!”

Our national parks offer hunting and fishing opportunities and the chance to introduce others to the outdoors. Take advantage of hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing and other activities while you’re there. As these areas begin to open again, visit the National Park Service website for news updates and do a search to learn about the current status of areas near you.

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