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FWC SETS NEW REGULATIONS FOR FOUR WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREAS

September 3, 2003
CONTACT: Karen Parker (386) 758-0532

In reaction to state budget shortfalls, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) converted four wildlife management areas (WMAs) to recreational “user-pay” areas and changed some specific area rules accordingly.  On these privately owned WMAs, hunters are required to pay higher permit fees than the normal $25 WMA permit.

“This was the only course of action available to the Commission to keep the areas open to public hunting,” said Rolando Garcia, regional director of the FWC’s North Central Region.

The new “user-pay” areas are:

Fort McCoy - This area has a user-pay quota of 150 permits at $200 each. Camping will be prohibited per landowner request. There are no other rule changes. Access would be restricted only to those individuals who possess a Fort McCoy recreational use permit.

Relay -  This area has a user-pay quota of 300 permits at $275 each. Camping will be allowed. There are no other rule changes. Access would be restricted only to those individuals who possess a Relay recreational use permit.

Gulf Hammock - This area has a user-pay quota of 400 permits at $275 each. Large dogs will still be allowed. There are no other significant changes to the area except there is now a new three-day muzzleloading gun season this fall. Access would be restricted only to those individuals who possess a Gulf Hammock recreational use permit.

Grove Park - This area has a user-pay quota of 200 at $325 each. Seasons will be the same as when it was part of the Lochloosa WMA, and the entire area will be still-hunt only.

“Those applying for a Grove Park recreational use permit should be aware that general public access will be permitted for hiking, biking and horseback riding along two trails on the area,” Garcia said.  Recreational use permits are not required for these activities, provided such use is restricted to leaving footprints on the trails. Hunters and trail users should be alert to the potential presence of others while on the area.  A recreational use permit is not required for individuals who use the area’s roads as thruways, provided they are not engaged in recreational activities.

Lochloosa - The former Lochloosa WMA has been divided between two WMAs - Grove Park (user-pay - 16,303 acres) and the remaining publicly owned land, Lochloosa (name retained on 10,333-acre St. Johns River Water Management District property).

Lands lying north of Fish Camp Road or west of C.R. 325 will be Grove Park, and lands lying south of Fish Camp Road and east of C.R. 325 will retain the name Lochloosa. Lochloosa WMA is a dog hunt area with two quotas for the general gun season (first 23 days and 24th through 58th days) with a quota of 50 and no exemptions. A separate drawing will be made for the two Lochloosa quota hunts.

The Lochloosa application acceptance period is Sept. 15-26. The random drawing will be held immediately thereafter. Anyone possessing a preference card from this summer's normal random drawings will not be able to use it in this special drawing. However, next year, Lochloosa will again re-enter the normal random drawing and preference cards will again be able to be used.

Anyone who has already received a quota permit from the normal random drawing this summer will not jeopardize that permit if he applies for a Lochloosa permit in the special drawing.

Recreational Use Permit applications are now available from county tax collectors’ offices, online and at regional offices. Applications will be accepted starting Sept. 10.   Quota hunt applications for Lochloosa WMA will be available next week.

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