Richmond, Virginia – Virginia’s hunters and fishermen will benefit from legislation passed in the 2008 General Assembly. The Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus was actively engaged in the advancement of the pro-sportsmen legislation.
The ‘try before you buy’ apprentice hunting license bill will help increase participation in hunting. Disabled veterans can now fish for trout without obtaining a license. A bill establishing funding for agricultural best management practices will benefit the land and the Chesapeake Bay and the public’s opportunity for providing input in the formulation process for wildlife regulations has been reaffirmed.
“This session, the interaction between the Sportsmen’s Caucus, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Conservation groups, and the outdoors industry has had positive results for Virginia’s sportsmen’s community. We are all dedicated to cooperation between the stakeholders to advance sportsmen’s issues and hold at bay the assaults from those who do not appreciate the importance of hunting and fishing,” said Caucus Co-Chair Delegate Scott Lingamfelter. “Our regular Thursday meetings during the session provided a platform for all of us to share ideas and information on the issues. We have cemented some solid alliances and are working for the good of Virginia’s hunters and fishermen and our abundant fish and wildlife resources.”

The bills are summarized below.

Apprentice Hunting License. HB1175 by Del. Scott Lingamfelter & SB617 by Sen. Kenneth Stolle – Authorizes the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to issue an apprentice hunting license. This license would be issued in lieu of the current state resident or nonresident basic hunting license. It is a one-time license that expires two years from the date of purchase and does not require the licensee to complete a hunter education course. The fee for obtaining the license would be $10 for residents and $20 for nonresidents. The purpose of the bill is to extend limited hunting privileges to persons interested in learning about hunting sports.

Special Fishing Permit. HB319 by Del. Kirkland Cox – Allows the Director of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to permit any organized groups of patients residing in or receiving outpatient treatment from a veteran’s or military hospital in Virginia, an adjoining state, or the District of Columbia to fish without having to obtain licenses. They would be allowed to fish in any public waters including those stocked with trout. Currently, the Director can allow a group of persons residing in veterans hospitals to fish in state waters without a license but such a privilege does not extend to fishing in waters stocked with trout.

Virginia Natural Resources Commitment Fund. HB1335 by Del. Steven Landes & SB511 by Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple – Establishes the Virginia Natural Resources Commitment Fund where 10 percent of revenue generated by a one percent sales and use tax will be allocated to fund agricultural best management practices. Beginning July 1, 2008, and for the next 10 years, moneys in the Fund would be distributed to the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program for the implementation of agricultural best management practices (BMP). Fifty-seven percent of the moneys are to be used for matching grants to implement BMPs on agricultural lands exclusively in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and 38 percent of the moneys would be used for all other lands in the Commonwealth. Five percent of the moneys would be allocated to soil and water conservation districts.

Public Input on Regulations. HJ231 – Resolution by Del. Christopher Saxman – Expresses the sense of the General Assembly that the Board of Game and Inland fisheries and the Department of Game and Inland fisheries provide for greater citizen input in the formulation of wildlife regulations.
The Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus was formed in 2004 and is comprised of legislators that defend, protect and promote hunting and fishing. The current Co-Chairs of the caucus are Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, Delegate James Shuler, Senator Creigh Deeds and Senator Emmett Hanger. The caucus has been very successful since its inception, working towards the passage of the ‘No Net Loss’ legislation last session and the creation Virginia’s Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp (Duck Stamp) program in 2005.

About the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC)
The National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, a program of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), serves as the umbrella for 34 affiliated state legislative sportsmen’s caucuses. NASC is the leader in providing information to protect and promote sportsmen’s issues in state legislatures, serving as the venue for focused interaction and idea exchange among state caucus leaders and the outdoors community. For additional information, visit the NASC website at www.statesportsmenslink.org or call 202-543-6907.
To learn more about how Virginia’s 857,000 sportsmen spend $3.6 million per day, visit www.sportsmenslink.org for the full report.