Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Bad news for West Virginia trout anglers

One of the most popular stretches of one of West Virginia’s most popular trout streams won’t be accessible by vehicle for a while. The U.S. Forest Service has closed a good-sized chunk of the road that parallels the river.

Here’s the Forest Service news release:

(Elkins, West Virginia) – Due to a sinkhole discovered in the driving tread of the Williams River Road in Monongahela National Forest, the popular road is temporarily closed between Tea Creek Campground to a location near Dyer until repairs can be made.  The presence of the hole presents an obvious safety issue to vehicular traffic in the area. Until engineers can fully assess the situation, the extent of damage underlying the road surface is unknown, as is the length of time it will take to implement repairs. Every effort will be made to have the road repaired as soon as possible,especially since the spring fishing season usually brings heavy traffic to this area.
Signs will indicate the closed section of the road. Visitors are requested to not drive around these signs, as there are no suitable turn around locations near the damaged area, and it is possible additional holes will appear in the road as the ice melts.

Congress’ attempt to add more than 25,000 acres of federally designated wilderness fell just short of passage on its vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The vote, 282 in favor and 144 against, fell just two votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage. Two-thirds were needed because House leaders brought the measure to a vote under suspended rules.

The $10 billion omnibus lands bill contained more than 177 separate bills, which combined would have added more than 2 million acres of additional wilderness.

Despite the narrow defeat — or maybe because of it — the bill’s champions vowed to bring the measure up for another vote sometime in the future.

“There are a lot of good bills, sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, contained in (the lands bill) that deserve passage,” said Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. “We will continue to determine the best course of action to advance these measures.”

Hunters had voiced concerns that the bill might prohibit hunting on many of the proposed areas. Just before the vote, congressional Democrats amended the measure so it wouldn’t restrict hunting, fishing or trapping.

The text of the bill, S. 22, can be found at  http://thomas.loc.gov/

What will happen to W.Va.’s state fish?

In the last two Sunday Gazette-Mail outdoors pages, I’ve delivered a two-part series on brook trout in West Virginia — the species’ history, its decline, and attempts to restore fisheries damaged by environmental insults.

Part I outlined the actions that pushed brookies from an estimated 95 percent of their former habitat. Part II detailed efforts by resource agencies, corporations and volunteers to fix what had been ruined.

Williams River Road will close for paving

Effective today, July 28, a 2 1/2-mile section of Williams River Road in Webster County will be closed for paving. Crews will widen the roadbed, and will blacktop the final unpaved section of the road.

Details of the closure can be found here.