Izaak Walton takes over Woodmont

October 01, 1997


Staff Writer

HANCOCK - A private hunting club formally takes control of 1,400 acres of state land in Washington County today, beginning a public-private partnership that state officials describe as "win-win" but some critics contend will close access to regular folks.

The Izaak Walton League of America in July signed a 15-year lease that gives the club control over about 1,400 acres of the Woodmont Rod and Gun Club, which is several miles west of Hancock. The lease gives the club control of the lodge, Camp Cleveland, the game farm and the surrounding land for six months out of the year in exchange for maintaining it year-round.

Charles Wiles, treasurer of Izaak Walton's national organization, estimated the group will spend between $200,000 and $250,000 a year in upkeep. He said a caretaker has been working since September to get the property ready.


Club members will have use of the land between Oct. 1 and March 31. During the rest of the year, Wiles said the organization and the state Department of Natural Resources will sponsor conservation and educational programs.

Patricia Manown, a DNR spokeswoman, said the state has been forced to seek partnerships with private organizations.

"We don't have the resources to keep this property going. This is a win-win situation," she said.

But the proposal has drawn bitter opposition from some hunters in the county since the day it became public. Funkstown resident Jack Wetzel said he fought as hard as he could for a public hearing and a better deal for sportsmen.

"We just kind of had to take what they presented," he said. "The sportsmen just felt cheated. I'd say the sportsmen lost."

Officials from the state and the club have tried to assuage those concerns. They noted that hunters will continue to have year-round access to 2,000 acres.

"We've been trying to fully inform anyone who has a problem with it. We think it will be worthwhile," Wiles said.

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