BOARD OF GAME
AND INLAND FISHERIES MEETING
4000 WEST BROAD STREET
Dan Hoffler, Chairman, Marshall Davison, John Montgomery, Richard
Railey, Jr., Will McNeely, Sherry Crumley, Jack Shoosmith, Dan
McCoy, Chuck Cunningham; ABSENT: Richard Corrigan and
Cecil Campbell, Schedule Conflicts; DIRECTOR: William L.
Woodfin, Jr.; LEGAL COUNSEL: Roger Chaffe; SENIOR
STAFF: Ray Davis, Bob Duncan, Herb Foster, Gary Martel,
Charlie Sledd, Jeff Uerz, David Whitehurst
called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. and Jeff Uerz was
requested to lead the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Mr.
Hoffler announced that a quorum was present. He welcomed
visitors, and indicated that a closed session would not be
The public was
advised that remarks should be restricted to three minutes per
Powell, representing Scenic Virginia, was recognized.
She indicated that at a recent awards ceremony, the Department of
Game and Inland Fisheries received the Scenic Hero award for
developing and implementing the Virginia Birding and Wildlife
Trail. A re-enactment of the award presentation was observed,
with Director Woodfin and David Whitehurst accepting.
and Laura Newell-Furniss, Hunters for the Hungry, were
requested to come forward to receive the first check ($5,013.50)
resulting from donations made to the Hunters for the Hungry
program by hunting license buyers. Ms. Horne and Ms.
Newell-Furniss were commended for the work they do to continue the
Hunters for the Hungry program, founded by David Horne.
thanked the Department, the Board and staff for their continued
support of the Hunters for the Hungry program. For the record she
noted that $5,000 would provide 28,000 servings of venison to the
Non-agenda Items: B. J. Ostergren, Hanover, Virginia
referenced an August 21, 2003 email in which she cited § 29.1-707
of the Code of Virginia pertaining to the availability of
Department records to the public (boat registrations). Ms.
Ostergren felt that the Code gives the Board of Game and Inland
Fisheries the authority to prescribe the conditions regarding
public access to records of the Department. She objects to the
Department charging for boating records when requested under the
requirements of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act and asked
that the Board require that department records not contain social
security numbers and dates of birth. She asked that the Board
enact changes to prohibit the sale of boat registration and
hunting and fishing license records. In addition she asked that
the web site advise citizens that information provided when
purchasing hunting or fishing license or boat registration
transactions would be sold when requested, as required by the
Freedom of Information Act.
Ms. Ostergren also
noted for the record that the Board had failed to meet the Freedom
of Information Act requirement that meeting minutes for August 20
and 21, 2003 be posted on the agency’s web site.
Note to Minutes:
The draft minutes of the August 20, 2003 and August 21, 2003
meetings were posted on the Department’s web site on August 28,
2003 (within the allowed 10-days).
Albright, Montebello, Virginia representing Friends of
Virginia Fish Hatcheries, stated that due to budget cuts, the
Department had closed all of its fish hatcheries to public
visitation. She stated that the funds provided by the Nelson
County Board of Supervisors to keep the Hatchery open to public
visitation would be exhausted soon, and she requested that all
fish hatcheries, and specifically the Montebello Fish Hatchery,
remain open to public visitation year round, noting that she felt
tax dollars must be spent wisely.
Employees and Others: Colonel Herb Foster was requested to
introduce Officer Tim Worrell who was recognized for his efforts
to rescue stranded citizens in the Guinea area of Gloucester
County during Hurricane Isabel. Officer Worrell responded to a
call for assistance for stranded citizens on September 18, 2003.
He went to the scene and found conditions too severe to safely
utilize his patrol boat. He and Major Michael Nicely of the
Gloucester County Sheriff’s Department requested the assistance of
the Virginia National Guard. At the risk of their own personal
safety, the officers, along with the National Guard, went through
high water, extreme quantities of downed trees and debris,
impaired fields of vision and hazardous materials to reach the
stranded citizens. One rescue vehicle stalled as a result of the
high water, but it was eventually restarted and the rescue efforts
continued. When Officer Nicely’s vehicle became stuck in mud,
Officer Worrell returned to the scene to locate the missing
vehicle. When located, a human chain had to be formed to safely
transfer some stranded citizens to the serviceable vehicle.
Eventually, all stranded citizens were rescued. As a result of
his efforts, Officer Worrell has met President Bush and Governor
Chitwood was recognized for his efforts to rescue two stranded
boaters on the Chesapeake Bay. While on personal leave, when
returning to shore in his private boat, Officer Chitwood observed
two individuals waving from what appeared to be a submerged boat
in the vicinity of the Cape Charles boat ramp, approximately one
mile from shore. Upon reaching the site, he found two individuals
in the water, holding on to the boat. He was able to get the two
occupants of the submerged craft into his boat. He made radio
contact with the Coast Guard and a rescue vessel responded to tow
the submerged boat to shore and take the two victims to safety.
Game Warden Jason
Harris, assigned to Grayson County, received a call for rescue
assistance for a capsized kayaker stranded on the New River. Due
to heavy rainfall, the river level was considerably elevated.
Using the Department’s inflatable Zodiac watercraft, the only
craft deemed suitable for the rescue effort, Officer Harris, along
with Grayson County Deputy Sheriff Glenn Hyatt, negotiated the
craft through dangerous waters to reach the stranded individual
that had pull himself onto a rock. They were able to pull the
stranded citizen onto the Zodiac and returned him to safety.
The three officers
were congratulated and commended for their outstanding work.
reported that Lieutenant Ron Henry continues to recover from
severe injuries sustained when he was intentionally injured by a
youth operating an ATV. In the preliminary Juvenile and Domestics
Relations court trial, evidence gathered by SLAP team members,
using advanced technology in mapping and photography, supported
the charges certified against the juvenile. The juvenile has been
certified for trial as an adult. SLAP team members were
congratulated for their work in gathering the evidence that
supported the pending charges.
It is hoped that
Lieutenant Henry will be able to return to work in early 2004.
recognized James Adams. Mr. Adams announced that Mark Wood
recently received a Special Recognition Award from the States
Organization of Boating Access (SOBA) for his contributions to
support the mission of SOBA and the Department’s boating access
program. This is the third national award presented by SOBA to
the agency or agency individuals for excelling in the boating
announced that the Department has been recognized for its
technology work by receiving a second Governor’s Technology
Award. This year, the Department received a Governor’s Silver
Government Service Award in the small state agency category for
its online hunting and fishing license service developed in
partnership with the Virginia Information Providers Network
(VIPNET). Dr. Virgil Kopf , Assistant Director of the
Administrative Services Division, was recognized for his
recognized Mike Hammel and Carmen Houston for their work in
developing the online hunting and fishing licenses sales program.
The technology award was presented to Mr. Hammel and Mr. Houston.
recognized Fisheries Division employees for recently received
Scott Smith was
recognized for receiving the AFS State Chapter Aquatic Biologist
of the Year award. He was also nominated for the Southeastern
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) Aquatic
Biologist of the Year award.
Dan Wilson was
recognized for receiving the runner-up 2002 Best Paper Award from
John Odenkirk was
recognized for receiving the 2002 Best Paper Award from the
The research work
done by these Fisheries Division employees provides critical
information that is used by the Department in the management of
its fisheries programs.
commended all agency employees for their outstanding work.
For the record,
Mr. Hoffler commented that the Virginia Department of Game and
Inland Fisheries is one of the finest wildlife agencies throughout
the country. He said that this remark was based on comments heard
from external wildlife professionals around the country. He
commented that he, and all members of the Board, are very proud to
be associated with everyone who works to make this happen,
especially Director Woodfin.
Minutes of the
Meetings: The draft minutes of the August 20 and August 21,
2003 meeting were posted on the web site and included in Board
member’s meeting briefing materials. Chairman Hoffler called for
any additions or corrections to the August 20 meeting minutes, and
called for a motion of approval. Mr. Railey moved, seconded by
Ms. Crumley, passed (Mr. Cunningham abstained since he was absent
from the meeting) that the minutes of the August 20, 2003 meeting
be approved as written.
After it was noted
that only the August 20 minutes were approved in an earlier action
of the Board, Mr. Railey moved, seconded by Ms. Crumley, passed
(Mr. Cunningham abstained since he was absent from the meeting)
that the minutes of the August 20 and August 21, 2003 meetings be
approved as written.
Discussion: Mr. Woodfin commented that the Department has
formed an advisory group to develop recommendations for the
implementation of an access fee to department owned lands and
facilities, as allowed by SB 786 enacted by the 2003 General
Assembly Session. The enabling legislation gives the Board the
authority to develop a fee structure to be paid in lieu of a
hunting or fishing license or a registered boat. The legislation
exempts youths 16 years of age or younger and users of the
agency’s boat ramps from the access fee requirement. Unlike a
criminal penalty, a violation of the access fee requirement will
be a civil penalty of up to $50 that will be paid into the Game
Using Power Point,
Virgil Kopf presented an overview of the advisory group’s findings
to date. Additional work will be done on the access fee, and it
will be taken to a broader citizen base for further review and
recognized Ms. Phebe VanValen and Ed Rhodes, participants in the
determined that any access fee action should support the mission
of the agency, and that the Department of Game and Inland
Fisheries should not be expected to provide camp and/or lodging
sites, that it should be a net revenue producer for the agency
(recapture administrative and enforcement costs), and
marketing/advertising is essential.
issues identified by the workgroup included: the legislation
allowed boat ramp exemption, the group fee may not be supported, a
desire for planned multiple use and equity in consideration of
operations, the current use or characteristics of the current
users of our wildlife management areas is unknown, and any
improvements will need to be consistent with the wildlife mission
of the property. Another concern is the administrative start-up
costs for the permit fees (up to $12.00). However if an adequate
number of permit fees are bought, revenue could be generated to
provide for improvements on the wildlife management areas that
would benefit hunters and anglers as well as wildlife enthusiasts.
identified planning unknowns: the current level and types of use
of facilities, the potential level and types of use, a willingness
or ability to pay enhancement fees, the potential revenue
generation estimates, operational and enforcement cost estimates,
multiple use conflicts/synergies and grant/deed limitations.
that discussions and reviews continue, that regulation language be
developed for a $12.00 annual and $3.00 daily permit, that a
determination be made as to where the $3.00 permit would be
reasonable and appropriate, possible exemptions from the fee, and
that administrative procedures to handle the penalty and the daily
fee be developed. Results of these reviews and discussions will
be brought back to the Board at its March 25, 2004 meeting.
discussed relative issues for an access fee. They agreed with the
workgroup’s recommendation that they proceed cautiously and that
the concept be taken to constituent groups for review and input.
A concern was expressed for the boat ramp exemption (canoeists and
kayakers) and that implementation of the permit fee not be a
revenue neutral initiative (enabling legislation may be too
moved that staff proceed with its feasibility evaluation of an
access permit fee as outlined and that they report back to the
Board at its March 25 meeting, seconded by Ms. Crumley, passed
unanimously. Mr. Cunningham suggested that reversals to the legislative exemptions be
sought in the upcoming General Assembly session.
Chairman Hoffler provided an
opportunity for public comment on the access fee discussion.
Richmond, Virginia, representing
the Richmond Audubon,
commented that Richmond birders strongly support the Virginia
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. An enforcement
difficulty is anticipated with the access fee, and they fear that
enforcement will absorb any generated funds. She further stated
that only one out of 18 recent Richmond Audubon trips was to a
wildlife management area. She questioned how out-of-state
resident permit conditions would be administered.
Discussion: Charlie Sledd
presented a conceptual change to how the Board currently handles
its regulatory procedures (wildlife regulations in odd numbered
years and fisheries regulations in even numbered years). Staff
proposed that the procedure be changed to handle all regulatory
and boating proposals every other year, beginning in 2005. This
would provide an improved opportunity for public comment, a cost
savings from advertisement requirements, digest printing, staff
time, improve the quality of the regulations digests, etc. Under
this scenario, staff suggested that Board meetings be scheduled in
April, June, August and November of each year. In the regulatory
cycle, staff recommendations for regulation changes would be
presented to the Board at its April meeting, and those
recommendations would be taken to the public for review and input
from April to August. Regulation proposals would be presented to
the Board at its August meeting for approval for advertisement,
and an official public comment period would be opened. The Board
would take final action on the advertised proposals at an early
November meeting, and changes would become effective in July of
the following year. Webless migratory game bird and waterfowl
seasons would continue to be addressed annually by the Board. A
combined hunting and fishing digest would result if this concept
The Board discussed the pros and
cons of the proposed change. It was felt that it would increase
the amount of time needed to complete the agenda at the regulatory
action meetings, it would not cause a significant increase in the
Ms. Crumley moved,
seconded by Mr. Davison, passed unanimously, that staff take the
proposed regulatory cycle change to constituent groups for review
Report: Director Woodfin
recognized outdoor writer Garvey Winegar who plans to retire from
the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Chairman Hoffler presented Mr.
Winegar with a certificate of appreciation, and he was thanked for
his support of the Department.
Mr. Winegar thanked the Board and
indicated that he appreciated the opportunity to cover the
activities of the Board and the Department of Game and Inland
James Adams was asked to present
an easement request received from the Virginia Gas Pipe Line for a
project that would extend from Grundy to Saltville across the
Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area. Department staff asked
the company to try to locate another appropriate site that would
not impact our wildlife management area, and they have been
unsuccessful in their attempts. They have asked that negotiations
for a pipeline easement begin, to be ready for use by October
2004. No objections have been raised to the proposed pipeline,
and the Department of Mines and Minerals will handle the
permitting requirements. It is an interstate project that does
not fall within federal regulatory requirements.
Staff asked the Board to
authorize it to negotiate the best possible easement for the
Department and that the Director be authorized to execute the
Mr. McCoy moved,
seconded by Mr. Montgomery, passed unanimously, that the easement
be negotiated and executed by Department staff and its Director.
Using Power Point, Legal Counsel
Roger Chaffe presented an overview of the requirements of the
Virginia Freedom of Information and Conflict of Interest Acts.
The Board was advised that as a public body, it is required to
conduct its business in open meetings and meeting minutes/records
must be produced and recorded. Telephonic and video/electronic
meetings are not permitted. Meetings must be noticed and state
whether public comments will be heard. Notices must be furnished
to anyone requesting such. Secret ballots and written voting are
prohibited. Briefing materials are to be made available for
Closed meetings are permitted for
the purposes of specific personnel matters for individuals
supervised by the Board, real estate acquisition transactions
and/or for legal counsel on active or probable litigation or
specific legal matters requiring legal advice. The Board is
required to certify in public session that no topics were
discussed in a closed session that was not identified in the
Under the Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA), requests for public records, including drafts,
reflecting public business, must be provided within five working
days of the receipt of the request. A seven-day extension is
allowed if additional time is needed to assemble the requested
information. Board members were urged to refer any individually
received FOIA requests to the agency Director for assistance.
FOIA exemptions and enforcement conditions exist.
An overview of the Conflict of
Interest Act was also provided. Board members were advised that
the act covers three areas: general, contracts and transactions.
They cannot solicit or accept compensation for doing their job or
use confidential information for anyone’s benefit.
A public official is prohibited
from having a contract, or personal interest, with its own agency,
or another agency unless the contract was awarded competitively or
a certification is made by the awarding agency that the contract
is in the public’s interest. If a public official has a financial
stake in a matter, it may be problematic for the public official.
Forms are provided for the use of public officials if a potential
conflict of interest act violation exists. They must not
participate in any action that might be a potential Conflict of
Interest Act violation. A violation of the Act is a criminal
Board members were advised that
any individually received correspondence (ex parte record) is a
public record and it should be forwarded to the Director for
inclusion in the public record to insure that the full Board has
had access to all records.
Mr. Mongtomery noted for the
record, that the entire Freedom of Information Act was provided to
him shortly upon his appointment to the Board.
Mr. Woodfin announced that
America’s Most Wanted plans to air a segment on November 1,
2003 on an unsolved hunting fatality that occurred in Rockbridge
County on the opening day of the spring gobbler season. SLAP team members
have been investigating the incident. The National Wild Turkey
Federation posted a reward for information leading to an arrest.
That award has now grown to $36,000. SLAP team members were
recognized for their outstanding work.
Board members were reminded that
they have been invited to the Virginia Deer Hunters Association
banquet being held October 23, 2003 in Richmond.
As there were no additional
matters to discuss, at 11:35 a.m., Mr. Davison moved,
seconded by Mr. Montgomery, passed unanimously that the meeting
Secretary to the Director