For decades, public lands paid for by hunting- and fishing-license money have been open for everyone’s use, free of charge.
Virginia state officials are changing that. Owners of hunting and fishing licenses will still get in free, but other folks will have to pay. From the Associated Press:
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — 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.
Interesting. Unless I miss my guess, Virginia’s action will start a trend.