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Hunters Rally Against Park At Rich Mtn. WMA Archery Tract

Worries over a hunting area becoming more like a county park spurred a huge crowd to pack a Gilmer County meeting.

Daryl Kirby | April 7, 2009

About 200 hunters packed a recent Gilmer County meeting, upset over what they heard were the county commission’s intentions for the Cartecay Tract, a state-owned property east of Ellijay managed by WRD as a WMA.

While some may have had hopes to develop the Cartecay Tract with more park-like features, hunters had other ideas, and so did WRD.

“We’re going to enter into an agreement with the county to do a couple of things,” said Mark Whitney, WRD chief of game management. “The county wants to improve the maintenance of an existing road (off Hwy 52), keep it scraped and graveled, so people can access a canoe take-out a little bit easier. That helps us because it improves access to our archery range. They want to do some fixing up of the existing canoe take-out point, put in a pit toilet and a couple of picnic tables. None of that really impacts hunters.

“The real controversy was across the river and upstream on a part of the tract off Blackberry Mountain Road. Some information got out that the county was going to cut a road down into the tract, and they were going to put in bathrooms, a picnic area and a canoe launch (on that tract).”

Mark said WRD personnel discussed those plans for the Blackberry tract with Gilmer County officials but never agreed to them.

“What the county was proposing was way too impactful on that tract of land,” Mark said.

Instead, WRD agreed to a parking area along Blackberry Mountain Road.

Eddie Ledford, a local hunter who attended the meeting, said, “The county commission was trying to get a little more done than what meets the eye. Basically, they were wanting to turn it into a county park instead of an area for hunters. Our goal was accomplished in stopping some of what the county officials had in mind. A small parking area on one side, and on the other side where there already is a canoe take-out, some bathrooms — in my personal opinion, that’s an improvement,” Eddie said.

“The local NWTF and the North Georgia Buck Hunters Association, a club that is growing fast and strong, put the word out quick, and it bloomed into a big crowd. It doesn’t matter what you hunt, we have to be in this together,” Eddie said.

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