West Virginia’s public hunting land is under threat again!
East Lynn Lake is a flood control reservoir owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The surrounding area is leased to the WVDNR, which currently operates the land as East Lynn Lake Wildlife Management Area.
USACE has been in talks with the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority about converting 9,721 acres of East Lynn Lake WMA into ATV trails.
Based on maps provided to the public, needed closures of illegal motorized routes would be implemented on the WMA; however, the proposed motorized recreation development would also include the loss of 9,721 acres currently managed for hunting and wildlife on the existing WMA.
This is not the first time West Virginia hunters and anglers have seen OHV interests try to turn wildlife management areas into off-road destinations and it won’t be the last. We’ve seen it at Cabwaylingo State Forest and Tomblin WMA. This summer we saw the landowners of Morris Creek WMA decide not to renew their lease with the DNR because they have plans of turning that land into an ATV park.
If the East Lynn Lake WMA is carved into pieces for an ATV park, it will set a dangerous precedent for public lands throughout the state. If the example of taking public hunting land for ATV trails is set at East Lynn Lake, what will stop local politicians from trying to convert public hunting land in their district into their own “Hatfield-McCoy Trails?” The WVDNR has similar WMA arrangements on USACE reservoirs throughout the state, including Stonewall Jackson Lake, Burnsville Lake, Summersville Lake, and Sutton Lake. These are among the largest public tracts and premiere hunting and angling opportunities in West Virginia and could all come under threat.
Our WMAs provide essential habitat for wildlife and public access for hunters and it’s up to us to maintain the acreage currently managed for these purposes.
There is a public comment period for East Lynn Lake WMA is open through September 2. Please stand up for our public land and write in with your concerns.
To submit a comment online please visit: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd5kOGcjaMoq3zSCD4wTbzKG2kCBjMhchXGt60d2Loi_pf2rw/viewform
To submit a comment via mail find details at: https://transportation.wv.gov/highways/programplanning/comment/EastLynnTrailSystem/Pages/default.aspx?fbclid=IwAR0ZOtv-K8usSzNfRwP0huBfz6JpmbKET64Tw-wZ5Z1n5iQMO5olNTUk8nk
Here is a suggested comment, but please feel free to add your own words and opinions on the issue:
"As a member of the West Virginia Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, I oppose a reduction in the size of the East Lynn Lake Wildlife Management Area. While I acknowledge the need to address illegal motorized on this WMA, our wildlife management areas (WMA) are important resources for wildlife and hunting and should not be diminished for motorized development. Sportsmen and women need a seat at the table anytime changes to WMAs are discussed.
I oppose any giveaway of our public hunting land for ATVs or off-road tourism and I oppose any efforts to allow ATVs or off-road use on our wildlife management areas.
Thank you for your consideration."