Private To Public And Back Again

Private To Public And Back Again

A small trout stream in West Virginia has been converted from a private fishery to a public resource. Over a mile of Spring Run creek and an associated property parcel in Grant County will be purchased by the state to be made available for open access.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrB0sYbbpgo

As reported by the West Virginia Metro News, "The Division of Natural Resources announced at the recent meeting of the Natural Resources Commission plans to purchase a 140 acre tract of land which includes a little more than a mile of stream along Spring Run near the community of Dorcas."

"For probably more than 40 or 50 years it's been managed as a fly fishing only, catch and release stream," said Brett Preston, Assistant Chief of Fisheries for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. "We thought it was important to continue that management as we acquire the property."


The policy decision was in keeping with the wishes of the previous owner,  Jerry Burke, who was adamant about maintaining the integrity of the stream and required strict adherence to his rules over five decades.


While not without precedent, these kinds of purchases are to be celebrated, especially in a state like West Virginia, where there is a perception that much natural resource has been impacted by industrial activity.  My first awareness of this kind of departmental vision in resource management was in the early 90's when a fantastic stretch of water on the Williams Fork of the Colorado river near Parshall, Colorado was opened up after 100 years as a private ranch holding.  The high altitude tail water below Williams Fork Reservoir continues to be one of the crown jewels for fly fishing in the state, producing larger than average Rainbows who prefer the colder water below the dam to the more variable and relatively warmer flows of the main stem of the river, which is an excellent Brown Trout fishery.

The Spring Run purchase comes at an interesting time regarding policy shifts over public lands. Recent actions at the Federal level have included the introduction of Bills intended to make large amounts of public lands available for private, and potentially industrial, purchase -- the inverse of the West Virginia initiative.

One of the Bills, H.R. 621, introduced by Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), experienced considerable blow back from sportsmen and the outdoor industry itself, prompting Chaffetz publicly state that he would  withdraw the Bill in response to a barrage of calls and letters from angry constituents. The last update on the Bill indicates that the document has been referred to the Subcommittee on Federal Lands.

However, there are currently other provisions for private purchase of federal lands, providing that certain regulatory requirements are met. Some parcels currently available provide access to critical stream and river habitats, and could be potentially excellent subjects for private philanthropists looking for tax deductible investments that could then be turned into publicly accessible angling resources.


At a global environmental advocacy level, this type of precedent has already been set in Southern Chile.  The late Doug Tompkins and his wife, Patagonia business cofounder Kris McDivitt used their personal fortunes to purchase large private land holdings in Chile, which were then turned into nonprofit corporations and dedicated as the worlds first private national parks to be managed in perpetuity by a board of directors. -- and then donated back to the country of Chile, where they are now considered national treasures.

Many new strategies may have to be employed in the future to protect resources and access, with efforts in both the private sector and with agency policy requiring increased awareness and support from sportsmen. The traditional model of public interest being managed by the state may now be open to interpretation, with solutions turning historical ideas upside down.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PxobpvQHpk


Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Bull Trout Bastion

Bull Trout Bastion

Hilary Hutcheson fishing for bull trout in the Elk River of B.C.

RIO Slickcast Fly Lines

RIO Slickcast Fly Lines

Chris Walker, with RIO Products, talks with Editor/Publisher Ross Purnell of Fly Fisherman magazine about the new SlickCast lineup of fly lines for 2020.

George Daniels Hauling Tuck Cast

George Daniels Hauling Tuck Cast

George Daniels Hauling Tuck Cast

G Loomis NRX Rods

G Loomis NRX Rods

Whatever the target species, these rods feel good in the fly shop when you're giving them a test drive.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Best Panfish Flies Flies

Best Panfish Flies

Skip Morris

Best Panfish Flies

It's a land of beautiful rivers, friendly people, and like a magnet it will draw you back. Worldwide

South Island: The Mount Everest of Trout Fishing

Barry Beck | Photography & Text - September 25, 2019

It's a land of beautiful rivers, friendly people, and like a magnet it will draw you back.

How to deliver meat & potatoes to hungry trout Beginners

Tools for Streamer Fishing

George Daniel - February 10, 2020

How to deliver meat & potatoes to hungry trout

The top eight spots for lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. Beginners

Locating Stillwater Trout

Ross Purnell

The top eight spots for lakes, ponds, and reservoirs.

See More Trending Articles

More Industry

New, alternative ways to connect with the community during a time of crisis. Industry

Orvis Introduces 'Virtual Casting Instruction'

Fly-Fisherman Staff - September 17, 2020

New, alternative ways to connect with the community during a time of crisis.

American Rivers today released its annual list of America's Most Endangered Rivers. Industry

America's Most Endangered Rivers of 2020

Fly Fisherman - April 14, 2020

American Rivers today released its annual list of America's Most Endangered Rivers.

Industry

Dave Whitlock Inducted to IGFA Hall of Fame

Lynn Burkhead, OSG Senior Digital Editor - March 10, 2020

Simon is the third generation of the Perkins family to lead Orvis since 1965. Industry

Simon Perkins is the New President of Orvis

Fly Fisherman - May 27, 2020

Simon is the third generation of the Perkins family to lead Orvis since 1965.

See More Industry

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Fly Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now