A New River Access Fee for Virginia WMA's

posted December 29, 2011
by Charlie Walbridge

article photo 1

Paddlers at the swinging footbridge put-in for Goshen Pass on Virginia’s Maury River were recently confronted with a new sign. Starting January 1, 2012, the VA State Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will require a permit to launch there. According to the DGIF web site says that anyone who wants to access a Wildlife Management Area or public fishing lake must purchase an access permit; the cost is $4 daily, $23 annually for both residents and non-residents. Anyone possessing a valid Virginia hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping license, or a current Virginia boat registration do not need an Access Permit (in fact, the new permit’s cost is the same as a basic hunting or fishing license). You can purchase permits on-line, though DGIF Customer Service at 1-866-721-6911, or at any license agent located in sporting goods stores and bait shops statewide. 

The scope of the rules are not yet clear, but here are some more facts from the DGIF web site: If a boat landing serves public waters such as public rivers or the Chesapeake Bay and it is not on a Wildlife Management Area you do not need an Access Permit. If a public boat landing or launch site is in a WMA or DGIF-owned public fishing lake you will need an Access Permit. Anyone under 17 or who possesses a valid Virginia hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping license, or a current Virginia boat registration is exempt; in fact, the permit’s cost is the same as a basic hunting or fishing license. If you are paddling through a wildlife management area, you won't need a permit as long as you remain on the water. If you land, you are accessing the property and need an Access Permit

It’s not clear which Virginia rivers are affected, so we’ll need help from paddlers on the ground to learn more. Please notify Charlie Walbridge at ccwalbridge@cs.com if you encounter this sign so we can update our nationwide river database.

For more information, here’s a link: http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/access-permit/.

Update:

In addition to the Maury, the Bullpasture gorge is in the middle of a WMA. The normal takeout is outside the WMA. The west bank (roadside) of the Bp inside the WMA boundry is designated WMA including the putin parking area. To get around this, one has to go approx. 1 1/2 mile upstream of the parking area and putin outside the WMA boundary.

Bev Bryant - SRVCC
Charles Walbridge
Bruceton Mills, WV