DEVILS LAKE, N.D. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will not allow Devils Lake area fishing guides to bring customers to Lake Alice or other national wildlife refuge lakes managed by the Devils Lake Wetland Management District.
The Fish and Wildlife Service opened Lake Alice to ice fishing for the first time this winter. Matt Sprenger, project leader for the service’s Devils Lake Wetland Management District, said a decision was made to deny a special-use request for commercial-guided fishing on the lakes because the agency didn’t receive any comments from the public suggesting commercial fishing guides would “meaningfully improve” recreational fishing on Lake Alice and the other refuge lakes.
Guiding is a commercial use, and federal regulations require the Fish and Wildlife Service to allow the public to comment before deciding whether to allow or deny such ventures on public lands, Sprenger said.
“In order for an economic activity to be approved on a refuge, it should be demonstrated that the use is beneficial to refuge programs,” Sprenger said in an email. “Since we did not demonstrate that commercial fishing guides would meaningfully benefit the recreational fishing program at the refuge(s), the use was denied.”
A comment period on a proposal to allow a limited number of special-use permits for fishing guides on Lake Alice, along with the Rose Lake and Silver Lake national wildlife refuges, opened in early January and ended Jan. 26. Sprenger said the service received exactly 50 comments on the proposal, and three guide services requested special-use permits, which would have covered a total of eight fishing guides.