On March 12 and March 13 the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will hold 12 public open-house meetings throughout the state.
The purpose of these meetings is to provide hunters, trappers, anglers, landowners and other interested parties the opportunity to become informed about the 2013-2014 hunting, trapping, and fishing regulations. These meetings will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The March 12 meetings will be in Fairmont, Lewisburg, Martinsburg, Milton, Spencer and Summersville. The meeting in Fairmont will be held at East Fairmont High School, and the one in Martinsburg will be held at the James Rumsey Technical Institute.
On March 13, the DNR will host meetings in Elkins, Glen Dale, Logan, Moorefield, Parkersburg, and Mullens. The one in Elkins will be held at the Elkins Operations Center, and the one in Moorefield will be at the Moorefield Middle School in the cafeteria.
For several years, I have often heard sportsmen and women say, "It doesn't matter what we say, they (the DNR) will do what they want to."
This is not always the case. If very few concerned people show up at these meetings, naturally the game biologists and the DNR commissioners will think the vast majority of the state nimrods and anglers are in favor of all of their recommendations.
These mandated regulations meetings are not only a chance to speak out in favor or in opposition of any new development, they are also an opportunity to present new ideas on the part of any individual. In some respects, it could all be called a numbers game. If only a small fraction of one percent of the sportsmen show up or fill out the questionnaire, chances are a new idea will not go very far.
However, if as many as five percent of the people who hunt, fish, and trap, who are residents of Randolph County would go to the Elkins meeting, they would be packed in the Operations Center building like Vienna sausages in a can. In a situation like this, the regulators would have to listen.
The handout questionnaire should be given the same consideration as a voting ballot. If enough people make a recommendation, the regulators would have to give the idea or recommendation serious consideration.
This meeting to be held in Elkins will be the first one that has been here since 2005. I have never been able to fully ascertain just why the meeting for this area was moved to Buckhannon. I have looked at the attendance figures of all of the Buckhannon meetings, and while I don't remember the exact figures, none of them were anywhere near the attendance of the previous Elkins meetings.
Since 1974, I had attended everyone of these meetings when they were held in Elkins. The first one I went to I ended up sitting next to the late state senator, Richard Benson. I remember one particular meeting in 1980s at the Elkins National Guard Armory where the attendance was well over 150.
No one can deny that the open-house format offers a more relaxed atmosphere than the captive audience or classroom-type format. However, many people who have attended these meetings from the past agree with me that they were better informed about what the DNR was going to be doing in the next one-or-two years using the old format.
If enough people attending this meeting next week were to make the recommendation of returning to this old format, the DNR would have to give this serious consideration.
Over the years, I have gotten to know several of the personnel at the Elkins Operations Center. Many of them are now retired. They are a bunch of down-to-earth, fun-loving guys.
It doesn't matter what kind of a title they held or hold (game biologist, water chemist, law enforcement officer, etc.), they are or were public servants trying to do a job that is sometimes difficult, stressful, and time-consuming.
I hope to see some of my readers at the Elkins Operations Center on March 13.