×

Justice’s decisions impact hunters

Ken Cobb

Less than two days after the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources announced an entrance fee for six state parks and one state forest, the governor has stepped in to halt the entire idea or program.

“The move was announced without my approval. It’s a bad idea, and I’m going to fix it,” Gov. Jim Justice said in a news release this past Wednesday.

The six state parks would have been Babcock State Park, Blackwater Falls State Park, Cacapon State Park, Little Beaver State Park, Pipestem State Park, Valley Falls State Park, along with Coopers Rock State Forest. This entrance pass system was supposed to start on the Memorial Day weekend.

The WVDNR anticipated this program would generate an additional $1 million to support the state park system with maintenance and upkeep costs.

Justice, however, has referred to the DNR’s announcement as an “error” and he has canceled it. Justice went on to say, “West Virginians are struggling, and at this time, there is no way I can go along with charging a fee to enjoy our state parks. West Virginia’s state parks will remain free and open to the public. When I see a mistake, I make it right.”

This idea of charging a user fee is nothing new. A few states have it. For several years, DNR officials have discussed this idea among themselves, along with the users of the state parks, forests, and wildlife management areas.

I really don’t have any objections to a user fee that is affordable as long as the revenue goes in the proper direction or what it is really intended for.

Anyone who has ever studied West Virginia history in any detail knows this state is infamous for corruption, fraud, graft and wasteful spending in state government. Whether we like it or not, scandalous state government has been a part of West Virginia’s culture for well over a century. This is just as much a part of our state’s culture as the many things we West Virginians are proud of.

This is why the people at large need to keep a watchful eye on how the various departments within the state use taxpayer’s money. For too many years, the people have been indifferent over this, and it has been very costly in the long run.

——

On Tuesday, Justice signed into law Senate Bill 345. This new law will permit Sunday hunting on private acreage, statewide, with written permission. This is a big step in the right direction.

Before West Virginia did permit hunting on Sunday, certain counties were previously approved by the residents of that particular county. This new law removes some of this confusing patchwork.

Hunters need to keep in mind that public land is still closed to Sunday hunting. This includes all federal lands (national forests), state forests and state wildlife management areas.

I haven’t had a chance to study this new law in any detail, but I will try to give some report on what this new situation will permit and not permit in future columns.