Hunting vital to tourism

In a Nov. 3 news release, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources announced that three new initiatives are being considered to increase fishing and hunting opportunities for recreational tourism. The new concepts to expand state park hunts should be finalized and presented to the WVDNR commissioners during the February meeting.

The first of these new initiatives is to increase the opportunities to enhance trout fishing in and near certain state parks next year. Fish hatchery personnel are making plans to stock trout in selected state parks on Saturdays. In addition to this, trout streams within a 10-mile drive of these parks will be stocked on Fridays. The Saturday stockings will be announced in advance to give tourist anglers the change to plan weekend trips, which includes overnight stays in state parks.

West Virginia DNR Director Stephen McDaniel says, “We believe stocking these lakes and streams on Fridays and Saturdays will provide an excellent opportunity for people, especially new anglers, to improve their chances of catching a trout while visiting our beautiful state parks and forests.”

McDaniel went on to say, “This should help attract families looking for additional weekend activities and those who work or attend school on weekdays during the regularly scheduled trout stockings.”

The DNR is now studying the idea of establishing special catch and release regulations for brook trout on streams located within four major watersheds in the Monongahela Nation Forest. The portions of these streams include the Middle Fork of the Williams River, Tea Creek, Red Creek, and Otter Creek. All four of these watersheds support more than 130 miles of native brook trout habitat. If this is approved, it will bring the total miles of catch-and-release water streams for brook trout to approximately 200 miles statewide.

I have never been a big angler or fishing enthusiast. If this new idea is fully approved, it will not make much difference to me. However, I do know other anglers who will not be one bit happy with this idea. When these people catch brook trout in one of the mentioned streams, they want to take them home and prepare them for consumption. The sportsmen and women who just might be opposed to making all of these national forest streams catch-and-release need to let their voices be heard. This is why the DNR has these sectional meetings in the spring. Next year, the sectional meetings are scheduled for March 12 and 13.

The third initiative the DNR is planning is to expand the program of more controlled deer hunts in select state parks. The purpose of this is to protect the ecological integrity of this public acreage.

I would be in favor of this. It was more than 30 years ago when Ruth and I were on our honeymoon at North Bend State Park in Ritchie County. The deer that made this place their home were quite tame and overly concentrated. Chances are, other state parks are having the same problem with the deer. Hunting in state parks is expressly forbidden in West Virginia, except as otherwise designated.

Such controlled state park hunts will provide recreational opportunities for those seeking a unique outdoor experience.

McDaniel said, “. . . up to 10 state parks with an either sex tag are being considered for this new idea.”

All of these new initiatives will be presented for public comment during the March sectional meetings.

This may also be the time to talk to your state senators and legislators about these new DNR initiatives.

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