Thursday, August 11, 2005
Bill Cochran's Outdoors: The good and the bad of the new game regulations system
Bill Cochran's Outdoors
- Virginia’s hunting totals produce mixed results
- A good trade: Virginia trout for Kentucky elk
- Forget the odds-makers; Salem’s John Crews believes he can win the Bassmaster Classic.
- The good and bad of the 2012 saltwater fishing season
- Column archive
Bill's Field Reports
- Virginia General Assembly goes soft on outdoor issues
- Quail Unlimited calls it quits
- Field reports archive
The way you pursue hunting, fishing and trapping the next few years will be impacted by a lengthy list of regulations expected to be proposed by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries August 18. The procedure is part of a new way of establishing and amending wildlife, fisheries and boating regulations.
From the comments I hear, and don’t hear, not many sportsmen have caught onto the revised system, even though one of its stated goals is to significantly expand public involvement.
The process began in earnest March 24 when the department’s staff presented a number of issues it had identified for possible regulations changes. In late May and early June, seven public hearing were held across the state for input on these issues. (See “Sportsmen invited to talk issues,” May 19)
Most of the hearings attracted sparse numbers of outdoorsmen; in fact, at some there were more DGIF people than sportsmen. There were several reasons people didn’t come:
1. They were unaware of the new system.
2. The issues were so vague that they did not generate enough interest for comment
3. Sportsmen were fed up with the inappropriate conduct of top DGIF officials whose shenanigans were being highlighted on the front page of newspapers across the state.
Now that the DGIF is getting back on its feet, it is time for sportsmen to pay attention to what is going on in the regulation process, like it or not. What is going on is this:
At the Aug. 18 meeting, set for 9 a.m. at the DGIF headquarters in Richmond, the DGIF staff will present its proposals for regulation changes. The board will approve, disapprove or amend these proposals and send them out for public comment.
Comments from the public will be welcomed during 11 meeting across the state in August and September. I have listed those meeting at the end of this column. Comments also can be sent by email: RegComments@dgif.virginia.gov.
The DGIF staff will consider the input of the public and come back with its final recommendations to the board Oct. 27. What the board approves becomes law the following year. The process will be repeated again in two to three years, depending on the timeframe decided upon by the board.
Three years is way too long to wait for a periodic regulation review. That option is one of several weaknesses in the new system. Another is trying to deal with hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife diversity issues all at the same time, when in the past it has taken two lengthy meetings to handle them. Is this going to mean less, rather than more, input from sportsmen when it counts?
On the positive side, the new system allows more spaced between the adoption of regulations and their effective date, which gives officials additional time to publish regulation books and inform the public about changes.
But will hunters become confused, thinking the regulations discussed and voted on in October are for the current hunting season rather than the next?
Board members will need to determine if the news system is better or worse than the old one.
Listed below are the dates of the public hearings during which fishing, boating and wildlife diversity regulations are scheduled to be discussed 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. followed by wildlife, hunting and trapping regulations 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Aug. 29, Virginia Highland Community College, Abingdon
Aug. 30, Wytheville Community College, Wytheville
Aug. 31, Northside High School, Roanoke
Sept. 6, Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors Meeting Room, Woodstock
Sept. 7, Augusta County Government Center, Verona
Sept. 8, Izaak Walton League Building, Centerville
Sept. 19, Madison Fire Department Fire Hall, Madison.
Sept. 20, DGIF Headquarters, Richmond
Sept. 21, Halifax County High School, South Boston
Sept. 22, Holiday Inn, Suffolk
Sept. 26, Rappahannock Community College, Warsaw