Thursday, July 26, 2012
Bill Cochran's Mailbag: What have we learned from the Jackson River controversy? Not much!
Bill Cochran is a Roanoke Times outdoors columnist.BILL: Where does one start when addressing the Jackson River fiasco (last week’s Cochran column)?
Bill Cochran's Outdoors
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- The good and bad of the 2012 saltwater fishing season
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- Quail Unlimited calls it quits
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In my humble opinion we need to look back and learn from our mistakes. We need to revisit the tailwater in its infancy, and even before its conception.
Where did we go wrong?
First, there are the Corps of Engineers and Forest Service. I am sure I remember that part of the mitigation for flooding vast acreage of excellent wildlife habitat was to create a downstream coldwater fishery. That was accomplished. But surely the Corps and Forest Service could perceive the potential problems with disgruntled landowners. This puzzle should have been addressed by the two agencies before the completion of construction.
The Forest Service purchased and developed the access points. Great, but what good is admission if it is unclear on what is legal boating, anchoring, wading, fishing, etc.?
Then there is Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. It was in a hurry to plant trout and get people fishing. I fished the river often in this infancy, but I always felt that DGIF should have closed the river for two or three years, allowing the fishery to develop, while taking the pulse of all interested parties, landowners, boaters, anglers and the like.
Then Trout Unlimited jumps into the fray. I was a member of TU at the time and I vividly recall thinking that running roughshod over landowners was not going to fly. TU did not handle the situation well, and, honestly, anglers like me probably didn’t either.
At the time, I was like a kid in a candy store. The river was new and cold and with trout. My desire to fish and explore the “new” resource surpassed my common sense
notion that we all should back off, let the fishery improve, and work things out. Other anglers were using the new resource and I wanted to be part of it.
How far have we come? What have we learned? I do not have a clue! I have not fished the river in years, nor do I have plans to fish the water, even though I travel the river road (Virginia 687) every couple of weeks. It is depressing to think we did such a poor job in
BILL: I remember shaking my head in disbelief when this (Jackson River controversy) was first covered. Why in the world are we still honoring land deeds that were granted by a king?
This boils down to a landowner that is very selfish, in my opinion. You have to be to use the “crown grant card” to keep someone from fishing a waterway that is managed by the state.
Virginia has to be one of the worst states when it comes to landowner/sportsman relations, i.e. hound hunting. What does this landowner and other landowners who have crown grants expect to gain out of all this? Nothing, other than a very poor reputation.
I really hope that the judge that hears the appeal for this uses a degree of common sense and realizes that honoring something from a former monarchy that no longer controls this nation is really preposterous.
I am in favor of the anglers that were sued and feel at the minimum they should be paid restitution by the landowners.