with Horse and Hound

New Public Land Rules Affect Horseback Riders in Virginia

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) owns more than 200,000 acres of land on 39 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in the Commonwealth. Most of the land was purchased and has been maintained with proceeds from hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses.

For years, bird watchers, nature enthusiasts, and horseback riders have accessed and enjoyed the land at no cost, but that has changed. As of January 1, 2012, visitors to DGIF lands will need an Access Permit unless they possess a Virginia hunting, fishing, or trapping license or a Virginia boat registration.

Of course, foxhunters in Virginia are supposed to carry hunting licences, so they should not be affected if they wish to hack out on these lands. However, enforcement of that requirement is lax, and many foxhunters are probably not in compliance. Daily and Annual Access Permits are priced at $4.00 and $23 respectively. More information, how to purchase online, and a list of statewide agents may be found here.

Posted January 10, 2012