Hunters, campers seek to retain public land access

By Amanda Moss

April 3, 2014

ROCKINGHAM — Roughly half the people who attended a public meeting Thursday about the future of Pee Dee River Game Land expressed concern about losing hunting land to other uses.

Members of the public said the land should be readily available for campers and wildlife viewers as well. Some feared losing hunting grounds due to the many different activities available to users of the game lands.

Officials with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission met with stakeholders during an 80-minute meeting at the Rotary Lodge overlooking Hinson Lake. Chris Dawes, piedmont EcoRegion supervisor, said that it is important to offer the land up for all kinds of uses.

“Every year we lose thousands of miles of hunting ground due to larger safety zones, but the more open and less restrictive we can be on the land the better people of different interests can use the area,” Dawes said. “I do not look at this land as a high risk area.”

Each individual was given comment cards that were filled out and submitted back to the commission giving their opinion on the habitats that are most important to the land, how the individual uses the land and any suggestions the individual would provide on how to manage the land.

It will help guide management and user activities on the state-owned portion of the Pee Dee River Game Land for the next 10 years. Management activities include vegetation control, road maintenance, planting wildlife food plots, boundary maintenance and prescribed burning.

Dawes said that all the comments received in public, online and through email will be taken into account when the commission develops a management plan.

The game land is located between Rockingham and Lilesville. Two tracts, the Diggs Tract and the Howell Tract, on the land encompasses approximately 2,270 acres.

A dozen Richmond County residents and a few Lilesville residents turned up to find out more information and provide their input on the management of the game land.

John Allen, of Lilesville, brought up a concern he had with trash that gathers along the area.

“Every time my wife and I go out to the boat ramp (off of Diggs Tract), we end up picking up trash that has been left there by people before us,” Allen said. “I don’t know how to enforce keeping the trash up, but there has to be some way to educate the public on it.”

The suggestion of a trash can in the area was brought up, but was dismissed. Many present thought the idea of a trash can would actually create more of problem with people abusing it and using it for a number of household items. Though Kacy Cook, land conservation biologist, made the suggestion to put up more signs to inform people to keep the area clean because it could affect the wildlife on the land.

The commission is still seeking public input. Comments may be submitted online at Click on “Comment on Game Land Plans” from the scrolling icons at the bottom of the page.

Comments also can be e-mailed to Type “PDRGL” on the subject line to comment specifically on the Pee Dee River Game Land. Comments for the Pee Dee River Game Land will be accepted until May 15.