Well here we go again. U.S. Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin are foisting on the people of West Virginia another government land grab. First Sen. Manchin tried to create a national park, the High Allegheny National Park in West Virginia.
Now, they have co-sponsored Senate Bill 1641, a so-called "West Virginia Natural Heritage Act." The bill appears to be no more than another way to get vast quantities of the Monongahela National Forest into the hands of the National Park Service.
Regardless of what the bill states, it would not be good for the hunters of West Virginia. I have already talked with the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources and they believe this will be the death of the majority of the Monongahela National Forest as we now know it.
Why? This bill moves all the authority over to the U.S. Department of Interior which of course contains the National Park Service.
I have to give the Senators credit, the bill does say that the state regulates hunting and fishing, but so does the act that created the New River Gorge National River and the W.Va. DNR is constantly battling the Park Service in hunting and trapping issues, as well as wildlife habitat management there.
The National Park Service might allow the W.Va. DNR to set seasons and bag limits, but habitat management for fish and wildlife will no doubt be ruled on by the Organic Act which guides the every move of NPS.
You really need to study the Organic Act, it is a hoot of bill that states something in one paragraph then a page later denies what was said in preceding paragraphs. One thing is for certain about the NPS, you get what nature gives you and take man out of the management of nature. Without proper wildlife habitat management the wildlife clearings grow back into forest, the early forest grows old, and the 70-plus species that require young forest suffer.
What this means is that the hunters are once again imposed on here in our state on public lands which we have helped manage with our tax monies from Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson taxes. The bill allocates $10 million to study and give guidance to communities and non-profits that want Natural Heritage Areas. Those of us that don't, well sorry!
Furthermore, the bill wants to take over state parks in certain counties, not the least of which is Cass Railroad. The folks in Pocahontas County and all the sportsmen's and women's organizations have been fighting against a proposed national monument and it seems there is always one attempt after another by some environmental groups to get rid of the National Forest and turn it into places that make it very hard to hunt or manage for wildlife enhancements.
I can assure you that the organized hunting clubs and sportsmen's conservation organizations will fight this idea just like we did the national park fiasco and the national monument. Let us manage our national forest, please!
More information can be found at https://www.govtrack.us/
Nichols is an outdoor enthusiast of upland hunting, working with many sportsmen's organizations to further wildlife habitat enhancement on public lands.