The Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committee to the S.C. Natural Resources Board will conduct a series of eight public meetings around the state in January and February to receive input on a proposed hatchery permit and a proposed game zone restructuring.
These proposals are part of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 2005 legislative agenda, and state Rep. William D. "Billy" Witherspoon of Horry County and chair of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee suggested the public meetings to gather input from constituents. For more information on the scheduled public meetings, call (803) 734-3886 in Columbia.
The proposed hatchery permit would cost $5.50, and be required of anglers harvesting striped bass, striped bass hybrids, smallmouth bass, brown trout, rainbow trout and brook trout. Populations of these species are maintained by stocking from DNR hatcheries. All revenues from the sale of this permit would support DNR hatcheries. Budget cuts have already forced the closure of two DNR hatcheries, and hatcheries operating now average 61 years of age.
The proposed game zone restructuring is an effort to streamline hunting regulations by consolidating game zones that currently have the same seasons for most game species. The proposal would reduce the number of game zones from 11 to six and does not include any calendar changes to deer or turkey seasons. This type of consolidation will simplify the hunting regulations and allow hunters more freedom to hunt different areas without wondering if seasons are the same. The proposal will also simplify the annual hunting "Rules & Regulations" booklet because repetitiveness found under the current format will be eliminated.
All of the public meetings begin at 7 p.m. DNR staff will be on hand to answer questions. Following is the schedule for public meetings to receive input on the proposed hatchery permit and proposed game zone restructuring:
Thursday, Jan. 20, 7 p.m. - Greenwood, Piedmont Technical College, Room 136-B, Continuing Education Building, 620 North Emerald Road
Tuesday, Jan. 25, 7 p.m. - Spartanburg, Spartanburg Technical College, Tracy Gaines Auditorium, Room LRC 1, Business I-85 & New Cut Road
Thursday, Jan. 27, 7 p.m. - Lancaster, USC Lancaster, Stevens Auditorium, 476 Hubbard Drive
Tuesday, Feb. 1, 7 p.m. - Florence, Clemson Pee Dee Research and Education Center Auditorium, 2200 Pocket Road
Thursday, Feb. 3, 7 p.m. - Aiken, USC Aiken, Penland Administration Building, Room 106, 471 University Parkway
Tuesday, Feb. 8, 7 p.m. - Orangeburg, Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, Building M, Room 1512, 3250 St. Matthews Road
Thursday, Feb. 10, 7 p.m. - Moncks Corner, Santee Cooper Auditorium, One Riverwood Drive (off of U.S. Highway 52 Bypass)
Tuesday, Feb. 15, 7 p.m. - Varnville, Hampton Jahab Shrine Club, Airport Road