ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Do you spend a lot of time outdoors? There may be some changes on the way from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) that would limit how long someone can camp on the department’s property.
The DWR has more than 220,000 acres of land, which is divided into roughly 40 different management areas across the Commonwealth. Currently, anyone can camp for an unlimited amount of time at any of the DWR’s management areas.
However, if the DWR’s proposal is approved, campers will only be allowed to on a management area site for a maximum of 14 days out of a 28-day period.
Chief of Wildlife Gray Anderson says there has been an increase in people utilizing the management areas, which has created more abuse of the sites.
“You used to be able to camp there unlimited. So you could essentially be there year-round,” Anderson said. “That obviously poses certain problems in certain areas for us. We’ve had increased use and unfortunately, some misuse of our camping opportunities on our management areas.”
Anderson says there is going to be a push for those camping to do a better job of cleaning up after themselves following a visit. The typical fee is $4 per day or $28 per year.
According to the DWR, if someone already has a hunting, fishing, trapping, or any other acceptable license to be on the property, they are not subject to additional charges.
Key dates regarding proposals:
- Public comment ended Oct. 11
- The DWR will present final proposals to board of officials on Oct. 22
- Changes expected to be into effect Jan. 1, 2021, if approved
That is not the only change the DWR is considering.
The department hopes to alter how its boat ramps are accessed. There are about 230 boating access sites in Virginia and the DWR is proposing a fee to access them.
The DWR is pushing for owners and users of boats and any other watercrafts to pay a fee to use its boat ramps. Passengers would be exempt from the fee.
Last spring, lawmakers removed the previous exemptions. Historically, boaters would not have to pay to get on the water from on the DWR’s access points.
Anderson believes the potential new rule would make it fair for everyone using the boat ramps.
“This is just an opportunity to let everybody who uses those resources be a part of taking care of those resources,” he said. We have fulltime staff that maintain those boat ramps. This will help those programs be more effective.”
The fee is identical to the campground management areas: $4 per day or $28 per year.
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