The Amherst County Board of Supervisors on Feb. 2 approved a resolution opposing House Bill 1604, which requires a permit for using facilities owned or operated by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.
Multiple boat ramps in Amherst County are affected by the legislation, according to a news release from the county. The board believes fees and the collection process will make it difficult for citizens to enjoy the county’s recreational activities, the release said.
“The idea that we’re charging our citizens a fee to use something we encourage them to use, which is our recreational facilities, just doesn’t sit right with me personally,” Supervisor Claudia Tucker said at the Feb. 2 meeting.
The law would have gone into effect July 1, applying a $4, one-time access fee for many canoers, kayakers and tubers. The state budget, which the General Assembly released Feb. 10, includes an amendment to squelch that fee until next fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2022.
Meanwhile, a study group will look at the costs, benefits and impacts on recreational users, then submit a report to the General Assembly by Oct. 1.
DWR’s executive director, Ryan Brown, will put together the study group. The House passed the bill 77-21 on Feb. 10, 2020. Eleven days later, it passed the Senate 34-1, with only Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, voting against it. Gov. Ralph Northam signed it into law March 12.
The Roanoke Times contributed.