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Update for Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR)-managed locations

Update 3/4/21:

“ACCESS FEE AT DWR BOATING FACILITIES DELAYEDThe Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) wants to alert customers that they are delaying the start of the new boat ramp fee that went into effect January 1, 2021 for DWR-owned and managed boating access sites. The fee was enacted by legislation at the 2020 General Assembly. It would have applied to those who did not already hold a boating registration, fishing license, hunting license, or access permit (who were exempted, along with those under age 17). For the affected individuals, the fee was to be $4 per day, or $23 annually.During the 2021 General Assembly, the legislature determined to extend the effective date of the new fee until July 1, 2022 in order to allow DWR to work with stakeholders to determine the best means for funding these recreational access sites while avoiding unintended consequences for outfitters, education providers, and those to whom the fee could pose an economic hardship. DWR anticipates assembling a group of interested stakeholders in the coming months, with a report of the group’s findings to be issued by December 1.” -Directly quoted from the DWR Facebook page (March 4, 2021)



If you are older than 17-years-of-age, you need a permit to use any Virginia DWR (formerly the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries)-managed locations, which includes boat launches (this mandate is relevant to operators of boats, kayaks, canoes, tubes, paddleboards) and parking lots at all wildlife areas. See the below photo (from the DWR website) for affected North Fork boat launch locations. 

To launch at a DWR-owned or managed access point you must have a valid Virginia hunting, trapping, or fishing license, a DWR Restore the Wild membership, an access permit, or current certificate of boat registration issued by DWR. You can buy these using the Go Outdoors Virginia licensing app or at Please take note of the new signage at each location as it reflects these changes.

This change is relevant to DWR-managed locations, but remember that Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) manages Seven Bends State Park and the boat launches there are usable without such a permit. They require standard Virginia state park fees/passes for enjoyment of the river. 

More information specific to the DWR permitting changes can be found here on their website.