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Lock 5 open for eight weekends to teens only
Jul 04, 2006 12:00 am
June 23, 2006 A 200-acre tract of land in north Wilson County will remain virtually closed to hunting under a compromise reached Tuesday by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission.
TWRC spokesman Doug Markam said the agreement calls for keeping the land closed to hunting except for eight weekends of the year. During the eight weekends only what have been termed "youth hunts" will be allowed, meaning hunters 16 and younger accompanied by an adult will be allowed on the tract of the Lock 5 refuge south of the Cumberland River.
Bow hunting will continue to be the only form of weaponry allowed, and access will be limited to boats.
"The landowner stood up with one of the deer hunters," Markam said. " … And the commission listened to it, and it sounded like a good compromise."
The agreement was purportedly reached in a meeting between landowner David McMahan and several hunters in the lobby of the TWRC Region 2 facility in Nashville while committee meetings continued Wednesday.
But Markam said he did not believe the meeting violated the Open Meetings Act, saying the meeting's participants "had to explain what their proposal was" to most of the commissioners. He did admit at least two commissioners were involved in the impromptu meeting, but did not recall whom.
Commissioner Jeanette Rudy, who represents Wilson County and has often complained McMahan and fellow commissioner Tom Hensley – both Nashville lobbyists – went behind her back to close the land, questioned why the deal was "signed, sealed and delivered when they brought it to us."
"Why didn't he make the proposal first before the commission?" Rudy asked.
She questioned how many hunters 16 and under would participate in bow hunting on the land.
"In essence, really, he's getting it closed," Rudy said.
McMahan, who petitioned the TWRC in May to close the portion of Lock 5, said he would take a "wait and see" approach as to whether the change would prevent what he has called rampant trespassing onto his 90-acre tract.
"Not all of the landowners were in agreement," McMahan said. " … Some of them thought there really shouldn't be any hunting. … Hopefully this'll be enough to solve our trespassing issues."
And although he said some commissioners were aware of the compromise reached prior to the meeting, he said the work was done in the public eye.
"During the public portion of the hearing, (commissioners) gave everybody that attended an opportunity to speak one way or the other," McMahan said. "But the whole thing was done … in the public."
Rudy said McMahan has two structures near where his property meets Lock 5, and asked, if the refuge were closed, how he would be able to shoot across the property and collect anything killed.
"It's questionable in my mind, but it didn't seem questionable to anyone else," Rudy said.
Staff Writer Jason Cox can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 45 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.