OHV Rule and Wildlife Management Plans Presented at October Commission Meeting

Friday, October 13, 2023 | 03:51pm

COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) presented changes to the current Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) license and permit rule to include a new OHV permit system and fee structure that will better support Tennessee’s OHV program and improve land management during a one-day meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission held Friday (Oct. 13).

Large increases in OHV use on North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area have resulted in increased erosion and impacts to wildlife species. To better fund restoration work and trail management, TWRA is proposing a permit for every rider in the vehicle and an increase in fees to be more in line with nearby private parks. 80 percent of OHV users in North Cumberland WMA are non-residents and the proposal is set for a vote at the December Commission meeting. Revenue generated from fees will be redirected specifically to OHV management.

The TWRA also announced new plans for deer and turkey management to better account for stakeholder values and available data. The agency partnered with Tennessee Tech University to facilitate stakeholder focus groups and to create hunting season models to help guide the process.

Focus groups of stakeholders worked collaboratively to establish objectives for management that include maximizing populations, maintaining healthy populations, maximizing stakeholder satisfaction, and maximizing the number of hunters. New hunting unit maps were also created based on geographic and biological similarities that will ensure management is appropriately tailored to the region. New unit maps and hunting seasons will be voted on during the agency’s season setting process in 2024.

Four public meetings are scheduled across the state for Tennesseans to learn more about the plan and to provide public input on draft hunting seasons. The meeting locations are the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Jackson (Oct. 23). TWRA Region II Ray Bell Building in Nashville (Oct. 24 – in person and live stream), Crossville Shooting Sports Park (Oct. 25) and TWRA Region IV Office in Morristown (Oct. 26). Meetings will be held 6-8 p.m., local time.

Biodiversity Division Aquatic Biologist Parker Hildreth gave a presentation on work by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore to complete a photo ark of the aquatic biodiversity of Tennessee. The goal of the photo project is to document biodiversity before it disappears, inspire, and motivate conservation actions, create moving and intimate portraits, provide educational material, and photograph every species in captivity. Shoal Creek expedition was conducted this past spring and the Duck River expedition was in 2022. A multi-state and federal agency cooperative effort contributed to the project. 

Long-time Memphis area journalist Larry Rea was honored by the Commission and TWRA with a resolution for his contributions. Rea was the Outdoors Editor for the Memphis Commercial Appeal and continues to host a radio show dedicated to the outdoors.

Wilson County Wildlife Officer Hunter Daniels was introduced to the Commission as the WRA’s Mississippi Flywater Waterfowl Officer of the Year. TWRA Major Brian Elkins, who represents TWRA on the Mississippi Flyway Council Law Enforcement Committee, presented the award.