Hunters, anglers and boaters stand to see millions of dollars of their money withheld from managing fish, wildlife and boating programs as part of the federal sequestration scheme to reduce spending. It may not be hurting much at the moment, but it has potential to do so.
The legislation requires that 5.1 percent of the funds from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs and the Boating Safety Trust Fund be withheld from distribution to states. This is money that outdoorsmen contribute through an excise tax on guns, ammo, fishing and boating gear. It is a major source of income for agencies that include the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
"It is going to hunt resource management by limiting what the state and federal agencies can do," said Noreen Clough, national conservation director for B.A.S.S.
Yet there really hasn't been an outcry among outdoor sportsmen or even the agencies that stand to lose the most. That could be because the state agencies still are using past year's money and it is abundant thanks to unusually heavy gun and ammo sales.
The DGIF recently heard that its final apportionment of Wildlife and Sport-Fish Restoration money for fiscal year 2013 will be $15.6 million.
"This value is higher than earlier estimates due to the brisk sales of certain items in the hunting, fishing and wildlife watching equipment categories," said T.A. Gelozin, VDGIF planning and financial director.
There are no plans to divert the trust fund money to the U.S. Treasury for deficit reduction or other uses. It is just stuck in limbo, unavailable to states for intended purposes.
Some 44 outdoor organizations recently contacted leaders of the House and Senate to ask that the funds be exempted from sequestration.
"We are constantly in touch with our federal partners ensuring Virginia's portion of these trust funds is protected," said Gelozin.
"I'm really disappointed that people haven't picked up on the fact that what's happening will impact resource management," Clough said.
Stream navigation bill subject of town hall meeting
A bill designed to enhance and clarify the right of the public to paddle non-navigational streams in Virginia was defeated in the 2013 General Assembly, but supporters are gearing up to try again next year. A town hall meeting to discuss the issue is set for Saturday, April 27, 7:30-9 p.m. at Niederer Auditorium, Hollins University, Roanoke.
Speakers scheduled to participate include Jacob Powell of the Virginia Conservation Network; Steve Powers, of Roanoke College; Wade Blackwood, executive director of the American Canoe Association and Del. Greg Habeeb, R. Salem.
- When Mike Ratcliff won the Oakley Big Bass Tournament on Smith Mountain Lake with a 6.32-pound largemouth, no one had to familiarize him with his prize, a Nitro 2Z bass boat valued at nearly $30,000. Radcliff owns Conrad Brothers Marine, the region's Tracker/Nitro dealer. Josh Nickerson of Roanoke entered the heaviest bass, 6.41 pounds, but was disqualified for failing a polygraph test. This is the third year there has been a disqualification. The contest attracted a record 670 participants.
- Virginia's spring gobbler season is going well in spite of hot-to-cold swings in the weather. Through Monday's Earth Day and including youth day, turkey hunters reported killing 9,397 birds. That represents a 16-percent increase over the previous year. Hunters got off to a brisk start posting an opening day kill that was 26-percent above last year. The first week of the season saw a 20-percent increase.
- The second delivery of elk from Kentucky for stocking in Virginia's Buchanan County is set for late May. Last May an initial stocking of 16 elk took place. A like number is anticipated this year. The original stocking of 16 multiplied to 24 when calves were dropped. Next year's schedule calls for the release of 75 elk. Plans are to build a herd of 400 animals during the next decade.
- A new Quail Forever Chapter has been organized in Virginia. It is based in Ashland and called the Central Virginia Quail Forever Chapter. It leader is Jim Jones, an avid hunter with two English setters and two Brittany spaniels. The chapter is working with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries on a public land habitat improvement project. A fund-raising banquet is planned in October. The phone number for Jones is 804-363-5186.
- The Virginia State Championship for high school bass fishermen is set for May 19 at Smith Mountain Lake with launching out of Gills Creek Marina. Details can be found on www.HighSchoolFishing.org. Sponsors are the Bass Federation Inc., FLW, the Virginia Bass Federation and Franklin County Commerce and Leisure Services.
- There is a new leader in the blueline tilefish category of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, a 19-pound, 10-ounce catch by Dennis Hardison of Chesapeake who was fishing the Norfolk Canyon. The total citation count in the tournament has reached 683.
- The National Rifle Association has been selected to produce the highly popular outdoor show held in Harrisburg, Pa. The event, which attracts hundreds of thousands of attendees, ran into major trouble this year when its British-based sponsor told exhibitors no AR-type guns could be displayed. Exhibitors began pulling out in protest and the show was closed. The new show is called the Great American Outdoor Show and is set for Feb. 1-9, 2014.
- Virginia's Chesapeake Bay blue crab population has taken a dip, according to annual winter dredge surveys. The overall abundance of blue crabs dropped from 765 million to 111 million, according the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Most of the decline was the result of a plummet in juvenile crab numbers. This comes at a time when the population of spawning age females had increased substantially, but that was impacted by poor reproduction.
Events, seasons, dates
- Botetourt Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation banquet, Saturday, social 5:30 p.m., meal 7 p.m., Lord Botetourt High School, Daleville, singles $55, couples $75, additional information and tickets from Richard Pauley, 540-992-1883 (work) or 540-254-2564 firstname.lastname@example.org and Ed McCoy, 540-339-0622 email@example.com.
- Virginia Hunter Skills Weekend, May 3-5, Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox, ages 11 up, $110 includes instruction, food and lodging, classes cover everything from a variety of hunting skills to cooking game, www.holidaylake4h.com/vahunterweekend.php.
- Triangle Archers 3D tournament, May 19, on club range between Christiansburg and Blacksburg, $12, $25 per family, cub and pee wee $6, information from Jim Overfelt, 540-552-8023.
- Triangle Archers 3D tournament, June 23, on club range between Christiansburg and Blacksburg, $12, $25 per family, cub and pee wee $6, information from Jim Overfelt, 540-552-8023.
- Triangle Archers 3D tournament, August 18, on club range between Christiansburg and Blacksburg, $12, $25 per family, cub and pee wee $6, information from Jim Overfelt, 540-552-8023.
- Hunters for the Hungry banquet, Sept. 14, Moose Lodge on Virginia 311 in Roanoke County, tickets $25 for a single; $40 for a couple, tickets and information from Ralph and Lois Graybill, 540-427-5125, and John and Wanda Reed, 540-427-4788.
- Triangle Archers 3D tournament, Sept. 22, on club range between Christiansburg and Blacksburg, $12, $25 per family, cub and pee wee $6, information from Jim Overfelt, 540-552-8023.
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