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Sectional meetings and archery event cancelled

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Although fishing and hunting are typically the best way to engage in the newly coined phrase “social distancing” even activities associated¬† are not entirely isolated from the impact of the Covid 19 novel corona virus.

The Division of Natural Resources announced Friday the upcoming Archery in Schools state tournament event has been cancelled. The event was scheduled for Saturday, March 28 at the Chris Cline Athletic Complex at Marshall University. Coordinator Kayla Donathan said in a normal year the event will draw 1,500 to 2,500 people.

“It’s disappointing, because months and months of work go into this, but at the end of the day we just wanted to make sure everyone is safe,” she said.

The decision follows the cancellation of numerous sporting events and he closing of schools in West Virginia. It’s a major disappointment to the hundreds of West Virginia kids who have trained all year for the event in hopes of making it to the National Archery in Schools Championships in Louisville, Kentucky. Donathan said they have been able to make arrangements to create a West Virginia team even without the state tournament.

“All of the teams had to submit qualifying scores to make state tournament, we’ve gone in and changed those scores to a ‘virtual state tournament.’ Based on the scores they submitted, we have taken the top team per division and top 10 individuals per division and automatically moved them on to the nationals,” she said.

The decision was made working in coordination with the National Archery in Schools office since most states are dealing with similar issues.¬† Donathan said even the qualifying scores were extremely competitive, but admitted it wasn’t’ nearly the same as shooting for the chance to go. The National event is set for May 9-11 and as of now is still schedule to happen.

The DNR issued another major cancellation Friday with the elimination of the 2020 Sportsman’s Sectional Meeting.

“We’re erring on the side of caution. I think the Governor is right on target to put health and welfare first. We didn’t enter into this decision lightly, but I think it is the right decision to make,” said Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Chief Paul Johansen.

Those meetings were to be held Monday and Tuesday at locations across the state to give sportsmen, landowners, and anybody else interested a chance to make their case with the agency on the proposed game and fish law changes from the most recent meeting of the Natural Resources Commission.

While the meetings are cancelled, the agency is still interested in the input of sportsmen and women and is making the proposed changes and the surveys to gauge the public’s desires on line and available in hard copy at the DNR district offices around the state as well as the Elkins Operations Center and the South Charleston headquarters.

“We’re making alternative arrangements to seek input because that’s incredibly important to our agency and to the commissioners,” said Johansen.

Those interested can respond online or by mailing in the materials. Johansen admitted it wasn’t ideal, but after what has happened in recent days, nothing seems to be simple right now.

“This is a little bit of a difficult arrangement, since it doesn’t afford the opportunity for the one on one conversation at the sectional meetings which brings great value, but we’re in a little bit of a difficult situation and I have to stress we really are genuine in our desire to receive comments on our proposals,” he said.

The proposals with regard to season dates and bag limits for the big game seasons are to be voted on by the commission at it’s May 3rd meeting which for now is still scheduled tentatively at Hawk’s Nest State Park.

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