Stakeholders Meet to Discuss WV Trout Management Plan
In large conference rooms, WV Rivers gathers with 11 other individuals, clad in masks and seated at tables 6 feet apart, to discuss our shared passion for fishing, love of native brook trout, the challenges these special fish face, and our concern for their future. WV Rivers is honored to represent our members on the stakeholder advisory committee (SAC) for the state’s trout management plan.
WV Division of Natural Resources (DNR) is in the early stages of developing a plan to manage wild and stocked trout within the state. The plan will provide a framework to conserve and enhance this valuable natural resource. To make the process inclusive and transparent, DNR has incorporated the public’s input into the plan. Last fall they hosted 6 public meetings throughout the state. This year, with the guidance of the stakeholders like WV Rivers who have a vested interest, DNR will begin drafting the trout management plan.
The SAC collaborates with DNR personnel and their Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to develop the trout management plan. Along with WV Rivers, members include individuals from Trout Unlimited, WVU Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic, the founder of WVAangler.com, fly fishing guides, sporting good and bait store owners, and of course avid trout fisher-men and -women.
After going around the room and introducing ourselves, we talked about our important role in the development of the trout management plan, to represent the public’s voice in the process. Then with our collective experience of trout management issues in the state, we listed all the issues we could think of on post-it notes and took turns piling them into a colorful heap on one of the empty tables. WV Rivers brought up issues such as increasing public access points, enhancing and preserving habitat, reducing competition of stocked trout, improving and protecting water quality, and the need to gain a better understanding of how climate change will impact the species.
The TAC further refined the issues into categories that include Ecological Health and Risks; Habitat; Diversifying and Enhancing Access; Diversification of Stocked Trout Fishing Opportunities; Enhancing Native and Wild Trout Fisheries; Education/Youth/Information/Marketing; and Funding, Investment and Capacity. At our SAC meeting in September, stakeholders began digging in to these issues by reviewing the issue statements that the TAC had drafted for each category and brainstorming the values that we hold as West Virginian’s that make these issues important. Our next meeting will occur in December with the goal of a completing a draft plan in the Spring.
If you have any input you would like our representative to bring to the next Committee meeting, please contact Autumn Crowe, firstname.lastname@example.org. We value your input and as our members it’s our privilege to represent your concerns in the State’s Trout Management Plan.