Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has declared the month of October as National Hunting and Fishing Month.

The secretary made it official Wednesday night at the grand opening of the Wonders of Wildlife Museum in Springfield, Missouri, proclaiming it to be officially recognized as such by the Interior Department.

"Hunters and anglers are the backbone of wildlife and habitat conservation in America, and they contribute billions of dollars to conservation," Sec. Zinke said. "From my perspective, the more sportsmen we have in the woods and waters, the better our wildlife and land will be."

In August, Zinke announced a proposal to expand hunting and fishing opportunities at 10 National Wildlife Refuges, according to a department statement, and the initial states of a plan to make New Mexico's Sabinoso Wilderness accessible for the first time to hunters, hikers, and wildlife waters.

READ: NC Sunday Hunting Law Goes Into Effect October 1

"Some of my best memories are hunting and fishing with my dad and granddad [in northwest Montana], and then later teaching my own kids to hunt and fish," Zinke said. "That's something I want more families to experience, which is exactly why increasing access to public lands is so important."

National Hunting and Fishing Day already exists, held annually on Sept. 23.