February 7, 2012
A permit to visit where the Gallant Pelham fell? What next, Virginia?
OK. You know you need a fishing permit if you want to go after channel catfish in the Rappahannock. Sue Stanley surely had one on 2 October 1992, when she reeled in the largest channel catfish (31 lbs. 6 oz.) ever caught in the Old Dominion. And everybody recognizes that a hunting license is the law if you want to nail a Boone and Crockett trophy deer as my good friend Eddy Webb did out in the Alleghany Mountains many years ago.
But what the heck is a Facility Access Permit? And to a civil war site? Let’s quote the latest mandate from Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries:
Effective January 1, 2012, a Facility Access Permit will be required when using any Department-owned Wildlife Management Area or Fishing Lake. Such permit shall not be required for any person holding a valid hunting, fishing or trapping license or a current certificate of boat registration issued by the Department or persons 16 years of age or younger. The Facility Access Permit requirement does not apply to Department owned boat ramps or segments of the Appalachian Trail on Department-owned land. The permit fee is $4 for a daily permit or $23 for an annual permit and may be purchased online or at any license agent.
Forget guns, bows, or fishing rods. Now, you’re going to have to pay just to hike anything the WMA controls. Even if you just want to shoot pictures of pretty flowers. Or visit the solitary monument marking the spot where Major John Pelham was mortally wounded in the Battle of Kelly’s Ford on 17 March 1863.
Located deep in the C. F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area along the Rappahannock River in Culpeper County, this historic site has quietly marked one of the war’s tragedies for a century and a half, attracting students of the civil war and admirers of the Gallant Pelham to a remote section of woods. Just know that now, the enforcement arm of Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will ticket you if you try to visit Pelham’s monument without that Access Permit.
Unaddressed in these startling, “outrageous” new directives as one civil war author recently styled them, would descendants seeking a family cemetery that happens to be on WMA land now have to buy permits to visit their relatives’ graves? Would the State of Virginia dare ticket such folks? Well…the rules they say, apply to all.
But consider this mantra in official state publications:
The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, race, color, national origin, age, religion, or disability.
So how does Richmond explain the following hypocrisy that already determines this licensing program … a listing of the exceptions in this program, i.e., the folks who don’t have to purchase fishing licenses as spelled out in the DGIF regulations:
1. Legally blind persons.
2. Any Indian who “habitually” resides on an Indian reservation or a member of the Virginia recognized tribes who resides in the Commonwealth is not required to have a freshwater license.
3. Persons 65 years of age or older do not need a saltwater license.
Disability? Race? Age? Perhaps we should close with a reminder from a Virginian from another time:
"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."
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