The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) requires visitors to obtain an an Access Permit for department-owned Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and public fishing lakes, who are age 17 and older, unless they possess a valid Virginia hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping license, or a current Virginia boat registration, or are otherwise waived. Please see Access Permit Waiver Guidance.
Daily or Annual Access Permits for WMAs and department-owned public fishing lakes statewide are available for purchase online, at any license agent, or by calling 1-866-721-6911 during business hours.
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The cost for the Daily Access Permit is $4 per person. The cost for the Annual Access Permit is $23 per person and both prices include the $1 per transaction license agent fee. Group discounts are available for daily use and the leader of the group must purchase the permit, carry it while on the property, and maintain a list of group participants for inspection when visited by a Conservation Officer. Group pricing, listed in groups of a dozen, includes the $1 license agent fee. Call 1-866-721-6911 during business hours to order a Group Access permit:
- 01-12 = $26
- 13-24 = $51
- 25-36 = $76
- 37-48 = $101
- 49-60 = $126
For groups of 12 or more people, a Special Use Authorization (SUA) is also required. Please note that authorizations for boat ramps may be subject to denial for large tournament events on certain holidays (i.e. Memorial Day, the 4th of July, etc.). Download the SUA application (PDF).
More about Activities on WMAs
The goal of DWR’s Wildlife Management Area Program is to maintain and enhance habitats that support game and nongame wildlife while providing opportunities to hunt, fish, trap, and view wildlife. Other uses of WMAs may be allowed, as long as they do not interfere with these goals and uses.
The Access Permit is required for access for appropriate, wildlife-related and compatible activities for visitors age 17 and older who do not possess a valid Virginia hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping license, or a current Virginia boat registration.
Only approved uses of these specific properties are allowed. Rules are posted online and are posted on signs at the facilities.
Some WMAs allow certain activities that are not permitted on others. Please check allowed activities (PDF) on the specific WMA you plan to visit.
Bird watching, wildflower viewing, hiking, and picnics are examples of those types of activities. Some WMAs also permit horseback riding and primitive camping. A few WMAs have shooting ranges that are intended for sighting in firearms for hunting.
DWR asks that visitors be respectful of the environment and to take their trash with them to dispose of where appropriate.
Visitors should also check the Lands and Facilities Closures and Notices page on this website prior to visiting a WMA to make sure the WMA is open and roads are passable (such as in icy or flood conditions).
Inappropriate activities include mountain biking, swimming, golfing, ATV riding, skateboarding, sports such as football, soccer, baseball, and other activities not compatible with wildlife-related recreation and habitat conservation.
Because the goal of WMA management is to maintain and enhance wildlife habitat, DWR uses science-based habitat management techniques which can include timber harvest, prescribed fire/burns, and agricultural techniques on its lands to create habitat that will support optimum populations of native wildlife. At times certain areas of WMAs are closed to the public while these techniques are being employed.
For more information about WMAs and their use read the Wildlife Management Area Study: Final Report approved by the Board at their October 20, 2011 meeting.
Violators are subject to prosecution and may be given a fine up to $50 by the court for each violation.