BOARD OF GAME
AND INLAND FISHERIES MEETING MINUTES
4000 WEST BROAD STREET
OCTOBER 23, 2003
PRESENT: Dan Hoffler,
Chairman, Marshall Davison, John Montgomery, Jr., 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
representing Scenic Virginia, was recognized. She
indicated that at a recent Scenic Virginia 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.
Debbie Horne 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 for the Hunters for the Hungry program. For the record
she noted that $5,000 would provide 28,000 servings of venison
to the hungry.
Public Comment, 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 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 licenses or boat registration
transactions would be sold when requested, as required by the
Freedom of Information Act.
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.
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).
Paulette 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.
Recognition of 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 Warner.
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.
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.
officers were congratulated and commended for their outstanding
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 sales program for hunting and fishing
licenses. The technology award was presented to Mr. Hammel and
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 the SEAFWA.
was recognized for receiving the 2002 Best Paper Award from the
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
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.
Access Fee 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 Protection Fund.
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 input.
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
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
recommended 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 restrictive).
Mr. Montgomery 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.
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.
Phebe VanValen, Richmond, Virginia,
representing the Richmond
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
non-resident permit conditions would be administered.
Regulation Cycle Discussion:
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, and 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 were implemented.
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 Board’s workload.
moved, seconded by Mr. Davison, passed unanimously, that staff
take the proposed regulatory cycle change to constituent groups
for review and input.
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
Department staff and the Director negotiate and execute the
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 public review.
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
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
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 offense.
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 adjourn.