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State hunting lands going private, lawmakers told

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia hunters are losing some of their stomping grounds to private clubs, as large landholding companies opt against public access deals, legislators learned Tuesday.

Division of Natural Resources Director Frank Jezioro outlined the trend to a House-Senate study committee, while stressing that the Mountain State has ample tracts for outdoor sporting and touting his agency's efforts to improve that picture.

Jezioro said examples include Western Pocahontas Land Corp., which has a deal with one club that charges members $100 a year. He also cited MeadWestvaco, another major landholder formerly known as Westvaco.

Some of those clubs charge $400 to $600 a year, he noted. Jezioro said these companies tell him that the private clubs will pay more than his agency, and often have limited membership.

Curtis Taylor, the agency's chief of wildlife resources, said the division continues to seek out companies and estates willing to sell or lease land for hunting. He also noted that McDowell, Wyoming and Mingo alone together have almost 50,000 acres of hunting land, while the property around all Army Corps of Engineers dam projects are open to hunters.



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