Hunting to guide land use rules

Published 5:34 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2019

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The Blackwater Task Force has proposed uses for the publicly-owned Blackwater tract that are built around hunting seasons. 

The hunters would have access six days a week generally during deer and turkey season, while others users get Sundays and the rest of year, according to a presentation provided March 21 to the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors.  

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Hunting seasons are scheduled during fall, winter and spring. Deer hunting season runs from October through January and turkey season is in April and May. 

During the rest of the year, which non-hunters note are generally the buggiest and most reptile-ridden, the tract would be open to other users.{mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The roughly 2,500-acre Blackwater tract runs alongside the Blackwater River on the western edge of Isle of Wight County. 

Other uses proposed for the property include hiking, biking, fishing, paddling, horseback riding, primitive camping, bird and wildlife watching and rare plant viewing. 

Isle of Wight County Parks and Recreation Director David Smith said that Task Force members were aware that not everyone was going to get everything they wanted. 

“This is unchartered territory,” he said.

The Task Force has proposed that two requests for proposals be sought for hunting season operations, based on the current geographical boundaries currently used by two county hunt clubs. 

The two lessees would be responsible for maintaining trails and roads and closing and opening gates that bar access to the property. 

Lessees would have hunting access during deer season on certain days, and public hunting would be available on the remaining days except Sunday. The same applies for turkey season. 

All users of the Blackwater tract — from hikers to hunters — would be required to purchase a yearly permit. The cost is proposed at $35 per person for county residents and $100 for non-county residents. 

The proposal calls for a separate permit for each activity, but Carrsville District Supervisor Don Rosie objected.

“That sounds a bit steep. I think that’s overboard,” he said, adding that it would be more reasonable to require one permit for all activities. 

The Task Force is also asking the county to provide $30,000 to develop the property to include gates, signs, parking, informational kiosks and marking property lines. 

Revenues from the RFP leases and permits would be put in an account for use in developing the property, according to the proposal. 

The county would also create a Blackwater Advisory Board to work with Isle of Wight Parks and Recreation to develop and operate the property, according to the presentation. 

Smithfield Supervisor Dick Grice, who proposed the task force to begin with, complimented it on finishing its task by the deadline — March — and said the plan is for the property to be self-sustaining. 

The Board plans to meet with the Task Force to go over other details, such as emergency response, at an upcoming work session. 

Meanwhile, the two hunt club leases currently in force on the property expire June 30.  

Members of the Task Force include Smith, Isle of Wight Tourism Director Judy Winslow, Todd West with the Isle of Wight Hunt Club, county residents Curtis Lytle and Ed Easter, Brian Carroll representing fire and rescue, Rob Wilson with Scouts of America, kayaker Della Carrico, hiker Cristin Emrick, equestrian Susan Laurino and Billy Holleman with the Mill Swamp Hunt Club.  {/mprestriction}