This week I had the pleasure of visiting with Jenny West, Executive Director of the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia (WFV). One of her first statements really made an impression on me. With conviction and passion, she said, “public land is critical to hunter recruitment and retention”**. This is where it all begins for most people who enjoy the outdoors in the Commonwealth – “you got to have a place to go”**. With no access you have no hunters. With no hunters, there is no purchase of licenses and reduced revenue for Virginia Department of Game and Fish. The future of hunting in our state is in the hands of the next generation.
Hunters and future hunters are the ones that place a premium value on outdoor recreation land tracts and provide rental income to landowners. If we are unable to cultivate the next generation of outdoorsmen that will impact land values for all. Some of the most valuable rural land in the Commonwealth has a value based on the quality of hunting available on that specific property. A friend recently told me of one of the greatest duck marshes in the state and how the owner had turned down several offers to purchase it saying, “the price is one billion dollars and it’s nonnegotiable!”. High quality hunting property can be priceless.
The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia is a nonprofit dedicated to conserving land, providing public access and outdoor recreation by strengthening the commitment of the commonwealth’s sportsmen to the future of outdoor recreation. *
The WFV was founded in 1997 with the donation of 2000 acres of land that it still owns and manages today for public access. Since that time the WFV has worked with private landowners and state wildlife agencies to acquire about 15,000 acres with the goal of transferring ownership to the Virginia Department of Game and Fish (VADGIF). This public access land bank is an asset for the entire state and a benefit to all who live here.
The WFV “exist(s) not only to conserve land, but to celebrate and promote Virginia’s rich sporting legacy”. * The first English settlements in America where right here in Virginia. When the English first settled in Jamestown, VA over 400 years ago they started hunting and fishing the land. Residents of the commonwealth have been continuing these outdoor traditions ever since. In seeking to conserve this land, The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia is a key player in promoting a heritage intrinsically unique to the state.
How can you help?
Nonprofits need volunteers – become active in continuing our sporting legacy and call the WFV to volunteer. Volunteering can range from:
- Helping to change gate locks on a public land tract
- Helping with a fundraiser
- Spreading the word about WFV
- Guiding a Turkey hunt for ONE SHOT – a statewide spring turkey hunt sponsored by WFV. Especially interested in guides (those willing to take a youth) in the southwest and western part of the state.
“You got to have a place to go” sums it put perfectly and the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia is working hard to make sure that there is.
Hats off to them.
- *Information and text taken from the website of Wildlife Foundation of Virginia
- **Jenny West
By Charlie Britt – Mossy Oak Properties of Virginia