Virginia Extends Deadline for Public Comment

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The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and researchers from Virginia Tech's Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation have extended the public comment period on a draft statewide management plan for Virginia's wildlife management areas (WMAs). The policy-level management plan is the culmination of a multi-year process to assess the use of and develop a statewide management plan for Virginia's WMAs.

This statewide management plan is available for public comment through Monday, September 5, 2011. Interested citizens may provide input to the draft management plan electronically at https://www.web2.cnre.vt.edu/nccontent/WMAplan/ or can mail written input to: Amy Carrozzino, Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech, 111 Cheatham Hall (Mail Code 0321), Blacksburg, VA 24061. A copy of the draft plan can be accessed on the DGIF website http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wmas/.

Prior to development of the draft management plan, VDGIF and Virginia Tech conducted on-site interviews with nearly 4,000 WMA users, conducted a follow-up mail and web survey with a subset of interview participants, and held focus group meetings with key stakeholder groups, as well as open public workshop meetings. VDGIF used public input from all aspects of this process to develop the policy-level land use management plan that identifies goals and policies for all of Virginia's WMAs. This statewide plan will provide broad guidance for site-specific WMA plans to be developed later.

VDGIF currently owns and maintains 39 wildlife management areas totaling over 200,000 acres, as means to provide and enhance wildlife habitat and to provide a variety of wildlife-related outdoor recreational opportunities for the public. These areas were acquired and are maintained using Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Funds derived from excise taxes assessed on hunting and fishing equipment and supplies; hunting, trapping and fishing license revenues; and a variety of other funding sources including grants from partner organizations. To learn more about the Department's wildlife management areas, visit the agency's website http://www.dgif.virginia.gov.

It is the mission of the VDGIF to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; to provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the rights of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia; to promote safety for persons and property in connection with boating, hunting and fishing; to provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an awareness of and appreciation for Virginia's fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities.