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?