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VDGIF seeks public comment on trout management plan

By TRAVIS HANDY

travis@southwesttimes.com

 

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) will be hosting a series of eight meetings seeking public comment on a newly initiated process to develop a statewide Stocked Trout Management Plan.

The department is developing the plan with Virginia Tech’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, and says the plan will be similar in scope and purpose to the state’s White-tailed Deer Management Plan and Black Bear Management plan. The Stocked Trout Management Plan will be designed to provide broad guidance on policies for addressing the complex management challenges and issues related to producing desirable fishing experiences for stocked trout.

“The VDGIF recognizes the importance of stocked trout fishing and the fact that not all constituents desire the same type of fishing experience,” said Vic DiCenzo, a Virginia Tech doctoral student involved with the study. “A long-term management plan, that includes significant stakeholder involvement, will provide the agency guidance for managing this program.”

According to DiCenzo, the project funding was effective July 1, but had been discussed for about a year prior to its beginning. The research is meant to answer questions like how many stocked trout anglers catch and harvest, why trout license sales are declining, and what can be done to improve angler satisfaction with stocked trout fishing and management in Virginia.

When asked whether any issues had already been identified in the state, DiCenzo said there are always concerns and complaints, but researchers hope to identify “a more complete suite of issues” with the help of public input.

“I anticipate the way stockings are announced and how fish are spread within a stocking will be important issues, but there will likely be several more,” DiCenzo said.

Researchers will also survey anglers at certain streams or ponds while they are fishing, beginning in early October. They will sample trout fishermen at Big Stoney Creek, Pandapas Pond, and on the Roanoke River at Green Hill Park. In the spring, surveys will go out to a random sampling of 4,000 trout license holders around the state.

Peak Creek is among a list of stocked streams offering trout fishing opportunities in our area, but is the only one DGIF lists in Pulaski County. Other stocked streams in the surrounding area include Cripple Creek (Rt. 94 and Ravens), Gullion Fork Ponds, Rural Retreat Lake Pond, Stoney Creek and West Fork Reed Creek in Wythe County; Craig Creek, Pandapas Pond, Poverty Creek and Toms Creek in Montgomery County; Big Stoney Creek, Dismal Creek and Wolf Creek in Giles County; Laurel Fork Creek, Lick Creek and Wolf Creek in Bland County; and Chestnut Creek, Crooked Creek, Little Reed Island Creek, Lovills Creek and Stewarts Creek in Carroll County.

The first of the eight planned meetings will be held at Wytheville Community College, Monday, Sept. 30, 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Galax Building, room 201. Other meetings are planned for Oct. 2 in Abingdon; Oct. 7 in Verona; Oct. 8 in Woodstock; Oct. 14 in Madison Heights; Oct. 16 in Roanoke; Oct. 21 in Fairfax and Oct. 22 in Culpeper.

For more information, contact Vic DiCenzo at vdicenzo@vt.edu or by calling 540-231-0961.