The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) owns more than 201,000 acres of land on 39 Wildlife Management Areas located across the Commonwealth. DGIF also owns 35 public fishing lakes statewide. Most of the land and the lakes were purchased using primarily revenue from the sale of hunting licenses, freshwater fishing licenses, and trapping licenses. Revenue from these sales has also paid for upkeep of the DGIF-maintained roads, parking areas, kiosks, and wildlife and fish habitat and management work done on these properties.
Over the years, hunters and anglers who shouldered the cost to acquire and to maintain these sites, have shared the property with bird watchers, wildflower enthusiasts, horseback riders, and others who have had the benefit of accessing these locations at no cost. But that is going to change on January 1, 2012.
Beginning January 1, 2012, visitors to Wildlife Management Areas and public fishing lakes owned by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries who are age 17 and older will need to have an Access Permit unless they possess a valid Virginia hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping license, or a current Virginia boat registration.
Daily and Annual Access Permits for Wildlife Management Areas and department-owned public fishing lakes will be available January 1, 2012 for purchase online at www.dgif.virginia.gov, by calling 1-866-721-6911 during business hours, or at any license agent. DGIF has a network of more than 700 license agents statewide at most sporting goods stores and bait shops.
Cost for the Daily Access Permit is $4 and the cost for the Annual Access Permit is $23. The Access Permit, whether Daily or Annual, can be used to access any Wildlife Management Area and DGIF-owned public fishing lake statewide.
More information about the Access Permit as well as lists of Wildlife Management Areas and DGIF-owned public fishing lakes can be found on the agency website www.dgif.virginia.gov.