On Tuesday, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will hold its annual regulations meeting at the Elkins Operations Center on Ward Road. This is open to the public, and I would like to encourage all sportsmen in this generalized area to attend. This is simply your opportunity to speak out and let yourself be heard.
There will be 12 of these regulations meetings at various locations throughout the state.
On Monday, meetings will be held in Fairmont at the Fairmont East High School, in Flatwoods at the Braxton County High School, in Martinsburg at the James Rumsey Technical Institute, in Milton at the office building in the West Virginia Pumpkin Park, in Princeton at the Rotunda Room at the Chuck Mathena Center and in Spencer at the Heritage Building.
On Tuesday, meetings will be held in Beckley at the Beckley Raleigh County Convention Center, in Elkins at the DNR Operations Center, in Glen Dale at John Marshall High School, in Logan at Chief Logan State Park Conference Center, in Moorefield at the South Branch Inn and in Parkersburg in the Lobby of the City Building. All will be held from 6 to 8 p.m.
Last week, I read where another outdoor writer seems to think this is the time for sportsmen to contribute their "two-cents worth" as to how the DNR is to conduct future hunting and fishing seasons. In as much as I dislike having to admit it, this is just about what it could amount to, considering the meager attendance among hunting and fishing enthusiasts statewide.
Last year, the total attendance for all of these yearly meetings was 469. It was 521 in 2012, 410 in 2011, and 425 in 2010. These totals represent considerably less than one percent of all the sportsmen and women in West Virginia.
The DNR itself could be partially responsible for some of this low attendance for switching to an open-house format from a captive-audience format 12 years ago. The meetings used to be run with DNR officials presenting the regulation proposals and then asking for comments, questions, and recommendations from anyone who was present.
I started attending the annual meetings in Elkins in 1974, and believe me, there was some heated discussion from some of the sportsmen present. At the same time, there was never any nasty or profane name-calling or open hostilities from anyone. People in attendance were well-informed about what the DNR was going to be doing for the next one to two years. This is the reason why I want the DNR to return to the old classroom-type format.
I have said for several years that more people who hunt, fish, and trap need to attend these meetings. If as many as ten percent of all the people who are outdoor enthusiasts in this area were to attend the Elkins meeting, they would be packed in the Operations Center conference room like sardines in a can.
Last year, I recommended the DNR return to the old meeting format. I think there were four tic marks out from this recommendation. I plan to make this same recommendation come Tuesday evening.
In addition to returning to the old format, I am going to recommend that Kumbrabow State Forest be turned into an old-aged deer management area, the squirrel season open on the last Saturday in September, and for the DNR to put all deer harvest data from 1923 to present on the internet. I read somewhere that 1923 is when the state started keeping records on the deer harvest in each county that had a deer season of some type.
I have also said for several years that the questionnaire needs to be given the same consideration as a voting ballot. Last year, only 450 individuals submitted questionnaires. This is less than three-tenths of one percent of all the people who hunt, fish and trap in this state.
If five to 10,000 individuals were to submit questionnaires, sportsmen would be contributing more than any "two-cents worth" as to how future hunting and fishing seasons should be conducted.
Those who want to submit a questionnaire need to remember, they must be in the hands of the DNR personnel prior to April 4. They must be signed by the person who submits the questionnaire.