West Virginia’s Wildlife Provide Recreational Opportunities
West Virginia’s many wildlife management areas are available for outstanding recreational opportunities to both state residents and visitors, reminds the Wildlife Resources Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. These publicly-accessible and managed lands offer excellent hunting, trapping, fishing and other forms of wildlife-associated recreation.
There are currently 78 state-owned or leased WMAs located throughout the state, totaling more than 346,000 acres. This includes more than 115,000 acres of land and water controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that are managed as WMAs under license agreement by WVDNR. In addition, the West Virginia Division of Forestry manages more than 71,000 acres of state forest lands that offer recreational opportunities to hunters, anglers and other wildlife-associated recreationists.
The importance of federal land in the state for outdoor enthusiasts is evidenced by the 1.1 million acres of land associated with the Monongahela, Jefferson and George Washington national forests, which provide vast public recreational opportunities. These lands are cooperatively managed by the U.S. Forest Service and WVDNR. In addition, more than 18,000 acres are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the Ohio River Islands and Canaan Valley National Wildlife refuges.
Twenty-four public shooting ranges also are located on various WMAs and other facilities throughout the state. These facilities are open to the public and allow people to hone their shooting skills and sight in their rifles. Some WMAs provide limited camping opportunities (contact your local WVDNR District Office for specific locations and fees) and excellent opportunities for hiking, bird watching, boating or just going for a family outing.
Hunters, trappers and anglers have been instrumental in the purchase of the majority of these state-owned WMAs. A portion of the revenue collected through the sale of every hunting and fishing license is dedicated to WVDNR’s land acquisition program. Without the support and active participation of licensed sportsmen and women, the state’s WMA program would not have achieved the level of success we all enjoy today.
For information pertaining to the state’s WMA program and for specific regulations governing the use of these areas, please contact your local DNR District Office or check the WVDNR official website, www.wvdnr.gov.