Last week, when news broke that much of West Virginia's northern Allegheny Highlands might be considered for national park and preserve status, sportsmen raised a ton of questions:
How big would the park be? Would hunting be outlawed? Would trout stockings be curtailed? Who would manage the fish and wildlife? And what would become of trapping, ramp digging and ginseng hunting?
We have answers now for at least some of those questions. Earlier this week, I spoke with Judy Rodd, a spokeswoman for Friends of High Allegheny National Park and Preserve, who clarified some of the murkier points.
The preserve, as currently envisioned, would be pretty darned big - roughly 750,000 acres.
Rodd said it would start at Cathedral State Park in Preston County and extend southward to Cass in Pocahontas County. Its western boundary would start at Shavers Mountain near Elkins and would extend eastward to include current units of the George Washington National Forest in Hardy and Hampshire counties.
"All the lands that would be included in the preserve would be lands that are current state parks or are part of the Monongahela and George Washington national forests," Rodd explained. "No private lands would need to be purchased."
She added that only a portion of the land would be considered a full-fledged national park.
"The main units of the national park portion would include Cathedral, Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley state parks, and some portion of the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area," she said.
"The Park Service folks have said units of the park could be spread apart like that. The rest of the land in the Allegheny Highlands - the vast majority of the land under consideration - would be in preserve status, where hunting and fishing would be encouraged."