In a March 6 letter to the editor in support of the National Monument proposal, it was stated that Mountain State anglers are too concerned about rivers to sit back and watch the federal government hand control of public land over to outside organizations and big time development, as congress has recently set out to do over and over again.
How is the government giving up control of public land? Where is this happening?
This letter also said WV Trout Unlimited has 1,600 members and purports to represent all West Virginia anglers.
In 2013 the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources sold 115,685 trout stamps. Approximately 101,000 were resident and more than 14,000 were non-resident. These numbers do not include the lifetime or senior license which could add another 20,000. This means that WVTU represents about one percent of West Virginia anglers. I am not trying to discredit the great work WVTU has done for our trout streams, but I would like to know why the WVTU leadership would take a chance on losing the privileges we now enjoy by endorsing the national monument proposal.
Some of the local groups opposing monument designation are the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), WV Bow Hunters Association, WV Wildlife Federation, WV Trappers Association, and WV Bear Hunters Association. Membership in these organizations totals well over 6,000.
Supporters of the monument proposal indicate there shall be hunting, fishing and other traditional activities with the monument managed by the US Forest Service. Keep in mind that this is only a proposal. By law, the management plan cannot be written until after designation, therefore, we won’t know what we are actually getting until after the designation. It may be managed by the Forest Service or it could be assigned management by the National Park Service. The present activities could be maintained as is or there could be restrictions placed on all activities including hunting and fishing.
As I understand, there is typically no additional funding for the administration of a new national monument. Revenue could likely be generated by charging user fees for entering the national monument, driving the Highland Scenic Highway, parking, hunting, fishing, ramp digging or any other activity that is currently free.
As it is right now, this proposed area of more than 123,000 acres is special because Forest Service professionals and technicians have done an outstanding job over the past 80 years to restore the healthy forest you see today. And they are currently doing an excellent job of multiple use management, providing a diverse, productive forest for all to enjoy.
As stated in the recent letter to the editor, we may have a lot to gain, but this national monument proposal brings a great risk of losing much more.