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Virginia to Begin Charging Non-Hunters, Anglers for Access to Public Land

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December 21, 2011

Virginia to Begin Charging Non-Hunters, Anglers for Access to Public Land

By Chad Love

Virginia has become the latest state to begin charging non-hunters and anglers an access fee to use public lands bought and maintained with outdoorsmen dollars.

From this story in the Washington Post:

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will begin charging a limited $4 fee at its wildlife management areas and public fishing lakes starting Jan. 1.

The access fee will apply to visitors who do not possess a valid hunting, freshwater fishing or trapping license or a current state boat registration.

The department owns more than 201,000 acres and 35 public fishing lakes statewide. Most of the land and lakes were purchased primarily through revenue generated by those licenses. Those license-holders also support the upkeep of department-maintained roads, parking areas, kiosks and the management of those properties. The access fee will be required for bird watchers, horseback riders and others outdoor lovers over 17 who use the department’s holdings. The annual access permit will be $23.

There are a number of states enacting similar rules for public hunting areas. Is it only fair to ask non-hunters to help pay, or would it be better in the long term to keep these areas completely hunter-funded and therefore hunter-controlled with no competing interests? Thoughts?

Comments (17)

Top Rated
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from Douglas wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Its the way to go. I wish NY would do the same.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob81 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

I have always been wary of this idea. As you mention Chad, as long as we as hunters provide the majority of the funding, we also hold the power when it comes to acccess, land use, etc.

I would much rather pay somewhat higher fees than pitentially lose access to swaths of currently available public hunting land or get locked into a perpetual battle to keep that access.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from TAM9492 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Its about time.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

While I think it is fair, I don't think it will fly if they look at what happened in Colorado. Colorado tried this with its habitat stamp program. Hunters and fishers are required to purchase a stamp to validate their licenses. They mandated that all individuals accessing state wildlife areas must have a habitat stamp. Someone(or some organization) sued and it was ruled unconstitutional to charge non-hunters and non-fishers to access the same land that is paid for by hunters and fishers mandatory purchase of a habitat stamp. If you ask me, it's a tax on hunters and fishers if everyone can use the property but only certain individuals are required to purchase a pass.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from CL3 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

It's impossible to enforce. You have to hit these folks up in another manner. Hey give it a try, but I bet there's backlash.

At the very least, it's an idea for PA to consider since a lot of these non-hunter-fishers are against Sunday Hunting.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from CL3 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Bob81: I wish I could give you 10 +1s for your comment.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from coachsjike wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

only one problem, who is going to keep track of who goes in and out? maybe have some of our nation's finest armed forces do it since they are coming home to no work and an extremely poor economy. every state should use this policy. here in new jersey we have lots of illegal immigrants using the wild life management areas to hunt and fish with NO LICENSE whatsoever. and no one goes after them. since we pay for the annual stocking fees and wildlife restoration programs, its only fair to go after those who don't. and if they caught, fine the $hit out of them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bryan01 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

My initial knee-jerk reaction was good, now the non-hunting/fishing population might begin to appreciate how it is the hunters and fishermen who fund most of the wildlife conservation in this country. But I don't think it will really work out that way and Bob81 raises an excellent point- if all of the revenue now being raised from hunters/fishermen can be raised from non-hunters/fishermen, there will be greater pressure to close properties to hunting and fishing. Practically, I don't think all of the funds currently being raised from hunters/fishermen can be easily replaced by user fees imposed on other outdoor activities, but I agree that it is something to be concerned about.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BigJim wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

I read somewhere that only 2 states (MO & AR) use tax money to fund their Depts. of Conservation, so there are other ways to balance the funding burden across the population.

This is a good idea, but I think enforcement will probably cost more than the revenue generated.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steward wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

I understand this, but I don't support it. Even if the money generated from sportsmen pays for the land, I have no problem with it being open to other people for other uses without them paying a special fee. However, I would support discouraging people from entering hunting ground during a hunting season when they are not hunting. It is dangerous for them and can ruin someone's hunt.

Is this a workable comparison:
I don't mind the neighbor's kids playing in my yard, even though I paid for it, as long as they know they need to leave when it is time for me to fire up my grill for supper.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ToddCBrown wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

I agree with Steward. Until I read his post I was thinking that it made little sense to stop someone from being on the land that their taxes pay to support. But when you consider that it is used for hunting and could ruin a hunt then you must keep them out during that time unless they are as considerate as another hunter.

During the off season I have no issue with it and don't see how you could enforce a price. There is no gate. But that may just be Indiana or those close to my house.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Good and bad.

Currently hunters pay to manage all wildlife on lands within the state, and we have less and less influence on how that wildlife is managed. Wildlife management has become political rather than science. Today the Feds announced they want to delist the wolf in the upper mid-west. The wailing and gnashing of teeth can be heard all the way to the Rockies.

I'd like to see a fee levied on all users of state lands and federal lands, or better yet taxes instead. Once you have a fee the poor and working class start to stay away. Free and accessible public lands are part of our heritage. If you are too poor to go to the movies or go to the beach at least you can go try to hook a fish, shoot a rabbit, or just watch leaves fall.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from A Wild Beast at... wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

I think that it is fair for all of those that benefit from public resources (e.g. wildlife management units, parks, etc) to help to support these places.

We, consuptive users (hunters and fishermen)foot most of the bill, but many other non-consuptive users have the right to access these areas, and their money is welcome.

Please, read my blog at http://awildbeastatheart.blogspot.com

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from GERG wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Well to keep our acsess to these public lands and the upkeep of such lands It seems inevitable.Frankly I cannot afford the club fees to private clubs for the most part. Dont like it but it seems a small price to pay to have a place to go fish and or hunt?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ableskeever wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

I hope this curbs some of the trash that gets strewn about on public lands.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from VArcher89 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

This would be even better if they just made people purchase hunting or fishing licenses because the state would then receive matching funds from the federal government. Overall, it seems to be a fair compromise to ask those who use it to pay, regardless of the way they use it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RangerDansDrink... wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

In my last visit to PA, Pennsylvania has started charging non-hunters to use the public ranges (range permits). From talking to friends, the ranges near an urban area are clogged on weekends with the 9mm and 40cal automatic handgun and M4 carbine FBI/CIA/Navy SEAL Special agent, soldier wanna be types. You can tell them from hunters and serious target shooters because they carry a 4inch or less automatic, shoot at a target 10 feet away, use laser sites and often wear camo to a range. That's a fad that I hope dies out soon. But I suspect it won't.

Unfortunately; when they buy ammo or camo or even their gun, they are very likely contributing to the wildlife conservation tax (or what ever it is called) that is distributed to the states wildlife programs, which buys ranges and maintain the land and does studies. So you can't legally exclude them. They paid for the resource, just not intentionally.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Bob81 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

I have always been wary of this idea. As you mention Chad, as long as we as hunters provide the majority of the funding, we also hold the power when it comes to acccess, land use, etc.

I would much rather pay somewhat higher fees than pitentially lose access to swaths of currently available public hunting land or get locked into a perpetual battle to keep that access.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

While I think it is fair, I don't think it will fly if they look at what happened in Colorado. Colorado tried this with its habitat stamp program. Hunters and fishers are required to purchase a stamp to validate their licenses. They mandated that all individuals accessing state wildlife areas must have a habitat stamp. Someone(or some organization) sued and it was ruled unconstitutional to charge non-hunters and non-fishers to access the same land that is paid for by hunters and fishers mandatory purchase of a habitat stamp. If you ask me, it's a tax on hunters and fishers if everyone can use the property but only certain individuals are required to purchase a pass.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from coachsjike wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

only one problem, who is going to keep track of who goes in and out? maybe have some of our nation's finest armed forces do it since they are coming home to no work and an extremely poor economy. every state should use this policy. here in new jersey we have lots of illegal immigrants using the wild life management areas to hunt and fish with NO LICENSE whatsoever. and no one goes after them. since we pay for the annual stocking fees and wildlife restoration programs, its only fair to go after those who don't. and if they caught, fine the $hit out of them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steward wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

I understand this, but I don't support it. Even if the money generated from sportsmen pays for the land, I have no problem with it being open to other people for other uses without them paying a special fee. However, I would support discouraging people from entering hunting ground during a hunting season when they are not hunting. It is dangerous for them and can ruin someone's hunt.

Is this a workable comparison:
I don't mind the neighbor's kids playing in my yard, even though I paid for it, as long as they know they need to leave when it is time for me to fire up my grill for supper.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from A Wild Beast at... wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

I think that it is fair for all of those that benefit from public resources (e.g. wildlife management units, parks, etc) to help to support these places.

We, consuptive users (hunters and fishermen)foot most of the bill, but many other non-consuptive users have the right to access these areas, and their money is welcome.

Please, read my blog at http://awildbeastatheart.blogspot.com

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Its the way to go. I wish NY would do the same.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from TAM9492 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Its about time.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from CL3 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

It's impossible to enforce. You have to hit these folks up in another manner. Hey give it a try, but I bet there's backlash.

At the very least, it's an idea for PA to consider since a lot of these non-hunter-fishers are against Sunday Hunting.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from CL3 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Bob81: I wish I could give you 10 +1s for your comment.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bryan01 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

My initial knee-jerk reaction was good, now the non-hunting/fishing population might begin to appreciate how it is the hunters and fishermen who fund most of the wildlife conservation in this country. But I don't think it will really work out that way and Bob81 raises an excellent point- if all of the revenue now being raised from hunters/fishermen can be raised from non-hunters/fishermen, there will be greater pressure to close properties to hunting and fishing. Practically, I don't think all of the funds currently being raised from hunters/fishermen can be easily replaced by user fees imposed on other outdoor activities, but I agree that it is something to be concerned about.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BigJim wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

I read somewhere that only 2 states (MO & AR) use tax money to fund their Depts. of Conservation, so there are other ways to balance the funding burden across the population.

This is a good idea, but I think enforcement will probably cost more than the revenue generated.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ToddCBrown wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

I agree with Steward. Until I read his post I was thinking that it made little sense to stop someone from being on the land that their taxes pay to support. But when you consider that it is used for hunting and could ruin a hunt then you must keep them out during that time unless they are as considerate as another hunter.

During the off season I have no issue with it and don't see how you could enforce a price. There is no gate. But that may just be Indiana or those close to my house.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Good and bad.

Currently hunters pay to manage all wildlife on lands within the state, and we have less and less influence on how that wildlife is managed. Wildlife management has become political rather than science. Today the Feds announced they want to delist the wolf in the upper mid-west. The wailing and gnashing of teeth can be heard all the way to the Rockies.

I'd like to see a fee levied on all users of state lands and federal lands, or better yet taxes instead. Once you have a fee the poor and working class start to stay away. Free and accessible public lands are part of our heritage. If you are too poor to go to the movies or go to the beach at least you can go try to hook a fish, shoot a rabbit, or just watch leaves fall.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from GERG wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Well to keep our acsess to these public lands and the upkeep of such lands It seems inevitable.Frankly I cannot afford the club fees to private clubs for the most part. Dont like it but it seems a small price to pay to have a place to go fish and or hunt?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ableskeever wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

I hope this curbs some of the trash that gets strewn about on public lands.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from VArcher89 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

This would be even better if they just made people purchase hunting or fishing licenses because the state would then receive matching funds from the federal government. Overall, it seems to be a fair compromise to ask those who use it to pay, regardless of the way they use it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RangerDansDrink... wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

In my last visit to PA, Pennsylvania has started charging non-hunters to use the public ranges (range permits). From talking to friends, the ranges near an urban area are clogged on weekends with the 9mm and 40cal automatic handgun and M4 carbine FBI/CIA/Navy SEAL Special agent, soldier wanna be types. You can tell them from hunters and serious target shooters because they carry a 4inch or less automatic, shoot at a target 10 feet away, use laser sites and often wear camo to a range. That's a fad that I hope dies out soon. But I suspect it won't.

Unfortunately; when they buy ammo or camo or even their gun, they are very likely contributing to the wildlife conservation tax (or what ever it is called) that is distributed to the states wildlife programs, which buys ranges and maintain the land and does studies. So you can't legally exclude them. They paid for the resource, just not intentionally.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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