Virginia Wildlife Management Areas

Virginia Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) are state-managed protected areas that exist primarily for the benefit of wildlife. Within the Commonwealth of Virginia, 41 tracts of land have been protected as WMAs, covering a total of over 203,000 acres (317 sq mi; 820 km2). They are managed and maintained by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.[1]


WMAs in Virginia differ from other state-managed protected areas in that they are solely intended to preserve and improve wildlife habitat, with a particular focus on game animals, and to provide public space for hunting and fishing activities. Other protected areas in the state, such as state parks, state forests, and natural area preserves, may protect habitat but are also expressly managed to provide space for public recreation, research, timber production, and/or rare species conservation.[2]

Land acquisition and maintenance funds for WMAs are ultimately provided by hunters and anglers, through license fees and taxes levied on gear. These fees are collected on a national level through the Pittman–Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, and distributed proportionally to individual states. Some WMA lands were originally donated to the state for wildlife purposes, rather than purchased.[2]

Public use and access

Although maintained for the primary benefit of hunters and anglers, other recreational pursuits are permitted within Virginia's WMAs. Hiking, primitive camping, horseback riding, and bird-watching is allowed on many WMA properties. Prohibited activities include swimming, mountain biking, organized sports, and ATV use. Boats, when permitted, must typically be non-motorized.[2]

To utilize WMA land for any purpose, visitors ages 17 or older must possess a valid hunting or fishing permit, or a current Virginia boat registration. In the absence of these documents, visitors must obtain a daily or annual WMA Access Permit that allows entry to WMA lands.[3]

List of Virginia Wildlife Management Areas

The following table lists Virginia's 41 WMAs, as of 2016.[1]

WMA name City, county or counties[4] Area[4] Major waterbodies[4] Notes[4]
AmeliaAmelia2,217 acres (8.97 km2)Appomattox River
Big SurveyWythe7,500 acres (30 km2)
Big WoodsSussex4,173 acres (16.89 km2)[5]Contiguous with Big Woods State Forest.
Briery CreekPrince Edward3,164 acres (12.80 km2)Briery Creek Lake
Chester F. PhelpsFauquier,
4,539 acres (18.37 km2)Rappahannock River
CavalierChesapeake4,550 acres (18.4 km2)Comprises two separate tracts, one of which is contiguous with Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
ChickahominyCharles City5,217 acres (21.11 km2)Chickahominy River
Clinch MountainSmyth,
25,477 acres (103.10 km2)Laurel Bed Lake
Crooked CreekCarroll1,796 acres (7.27 km2)
Dick CrossMecklenburg1,400 acres (5.7 km2)Roanoke RiverFormerly known as the Elm Hill Wildlife Management Area.
Doe CreekAccomack447 acres (1.81 km2)
Fairystone FarmsPatrick,
5,321 acres (21.53 km2)Philpott ReservoirContiguous with Fairy Stone State Park.
FeatherfinPrince Edward,
2,800 acres (11 km2)Appomattox River
G. Richard ThompsonFauquier4,000 acres (16 km2)Thompson Lake
Game Farm MarshNew Kent429 acres (1.74 km2)Chickahominy Lake
Goshen and Little North MountainAugusta,
33,697 acres (136.37 km2)Maury RiverContiguous with George Washington National Forest and Goshen Pass Natural Area Preserve.
Hardware RiverFluvanna1,034 acres (4.18 km2)James River,
Hardware River
HavensRoanoke7,190 acres (29.1 km2)The first VDGIF-managed property, initially purchased in 1930.
Hidden ValleyWashington6,400 acres (26 km2)Hidden Valley Lake
HighlandHighland14,283 acres (57.80 km2)Bullpasture River
Hog IslandSurry,
Isle of Wight
3,908 acres (15.82 km2)James River
Horsepen LakeBuckingham2,910 acres (11.8 km2)Horsepen Lake
James RiverNelson1,213 acres (4.91 km2)James River
Land's EndKing George462 acres (1.87 km2)Rappahannock RiverManaged as a waterfowl refuge; hunting not permitted.
MattaponiCaroline2,542 acres (10.29 km2)[6]Mattaponi River,
South River
Merrimac FarmPrince William301 acres (1.22 km2)Adjacent to Marine Corps Base Quantico.
Mockhorn IslandNorthampton7,365 acres (29.81 km2)Extent of the WMA's tidal marshland is greatly reduced at high tide.
PettigrewCaroline934 acres (3.78 km2)
PowhatanPowhatan4,462 acres (18.06 km2)
Princess AnneVirginia Beach1,546 acres (6.26 km2)Atlantic Ocean (Back Bay)
Ragged IslandIsle of Wight1,537 acres (6.22 km2)James River
10,326 acres (41.79 km2)Rapidan River,
Conway River,
South River
Contiguous with Shenandoah National Park.
SaxisAccomack5,678 acres (22.98 km2)Atlantic OceanPrimarily protects tidal marshland on Virginia's eastern shore.
Short HillsRockbridge,
4,232 acres (17.13 km2)Includes examples of karst topography.
Smith Mountain CooperativeBedford,
4,996 acres (20.22 km2)Smith Mountain LakeOwned by Appalachian Power and managed by VDGIF.
Stewarts CreekCarroll1,087 acres (4.40 km2)
2,679 acres (10.84 km2)
T. M. GathrightBath13,428 acres (54.34 km2)Lake Moomaw
Ware CreekNew Kent2,600 acres (11 km2)York River
WestonFauquier271 acres (1.10 km2)
White Oak MountainPittsylvania2,748 acres (11.12 km2)Banister River

See also


  1. "Wildlife Management Areas". Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  2. Gooch, Bob (2000). Enjoying Virginia Outdoors: A Guide to Wildlife Management Areas. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia. pp. 1–5. ISBN 0813919614.
  3. "Access Permit". Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  4. Unless otherwise noted, information included in this column is sourced from individual pages listed at: "Wildlife Management Areas". Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  5. Clarkson, Tee (November 17, 2016). "VDGIF purchases Parker's Branch". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  6. "Mattaponi Wildlife Management Area". For the Love of the Land - 100 Conservation Stories from Across Virginia (PDF). Piedmont Environmental Council. p. 21. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
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