CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The 50-yard walk to one of the state's most popular fishing spots passes by some disturbing scenery.
There's the plastic grocery bag sitting on the concrete walkway, filled with empty beer cans, empty energy-drink bottles and half-empty water bottles. There's a bird's nest of discarded fishing line. And there's a flotilla of soft-drink bottles, bobbing nearby in a quiet backwater.
Scenes like those might soon become eyesores of the past. State fisheries officials are negotiating to have trash picked up at the Kanawha River's Winfield, Marmet and London public fishing piers.
"All three of those facilities' licenses are up for renewal by Jan. 31, 2014," explained Kerry Bledsoe, federal licensing coordinator for the state Division of Natural Resources. "We have asked that litter pickup, portable toilets and adequate parking be written into the licensing agreements."
Bledsoe said American Electric Power, which owns the hydropower stations where the piers are located, "is pretty much in agreement" to provide those services.
Litter has been a problem at the piers for years, much to the chagrin of DNR officials.
"We get complaints," said Jeff Hansbarger, the agency's district biologist for the three popular Kanawha River fisheries. "We particularly get comments from people who want to take their kids or spouses fishing at those places and don't want to see a bunch of trash."
Under the facilities' previous licenses, there was no clear responsibility for litter pickup and disposal. Sometimes the power companies did it, and sometimes DNR personnel did it. Sometimes it didn't get done until the river rose and swept the piers clean.
"If we get a report of a major eyesore, and keep getting reports, we'll go down and do something about it," Hansbarger said. "It falls under 'other duties as described.' These piers are public resources, and we want them to remain appealing to the public."
As a whole, though, litter pickup at the piers has been of low priority, and Hansbarger believes that has diminished anglers' enjoyment.
"As a fisherman, you like to feel you're the first one there. When you see a tin can or a bait container, it kind of spoils it for you," he said.