Archive for August, 2010

When visiting a state wildlife management area it might not even cross your mind that permits are required to enter. However, such areas don’t manage themselves, it takes people and resources. In other words it takes money. One way to manage and measure the need for funding is to understand the number of visitors and the activities in which they engage.

Visitors to any Louisiana state wildlife management area, including Sicily Island Hills WMA, must be in possession of several permits and/or licenses. Those required to have a permit includes anyone entering the WMA, whether you are a biker, birder, fisherman, hiker, hunter, or walker. First, you must possess one of the following, a current Louisiana hunting or fishing license, or a Wild Louisiana Stamp.  Each of these items provides funds to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. One thing I might add is that the Wild Louisiana Stamp funds are specifically directed to the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program, which is the non-game division of LDWF.

Secondly, it is a requirement while at the state wildlife management area to pick up and fill out a Self-Clearing Permit form at the Self-Clearing Permit Station.One of these stations is located near the primitive campground on the south side of the WMA and there are two such stations on the north side of the refuge.

Perhaps you are asking yourself, first they want me to spend my money to buy a license and then once I arrive they want me to fill out a form, carry it around with me and then before I leave drop it off in the box at the Self-Clearing Station  ?  The answer is YES.

Why should I spend my money to visit a state owned area and why should I waste my time filling out a stupid permit form? The answers to those two questions are interconnected. First, it is required and is part of your visitor responsibility. Second, by filling out the form you are shaping your own future visits because you are providing crucial statistical information. Without these data the state has little to go on for deciding how the wildlife management area is funded or managed.

So you spent $5.50 per person (if you are over 15 years old or younger than 60 years old) to enter the wildlife management area? That is money well spent because from the day you purchase your Wild Louisiana Stamp you are allowed to visit all the state WMA’s for an entire year. One small fee per year per person seems like a deal to me.

Filling out a form each visit is not a great burden if you think of the wildlife management area as a gift of nature and not as an entitlement. Your future visits will be enhanced because when the LDWF understands your activities at the wma, it can tailor its efforts to meet those needs.

Become part of the history of the Sicily Island Hills by becoming a participant, not just a bystander.