Illegal Fishing Sting Nets 17 Violations

Four Virginia conservation enforcement officers converged on the Shenandoah River near Watermelon Park on July 17th for two days of targeted enforcement designed to stem a rash of illegal cast net and spear-gun fishing that has devastated wildlife populations in the area. The “sting” operation resulted in seventeen misdemeanor citations for ten illegal anglers and impoundment of six cast nets. The anglers were alleged to be in possession of over 300 fish and were charged with ten Class 2 misdemeanors and seven Class 3 misdemeanors.

In Virginia a Class 3 Misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of not more than $500 while a Class 2 Misdemeanor can carry a fine of up to $1000 and up to six months in jail.

Local Residents Alarmed by Irregular Fishing Practices

While local residents welcomed the enforcement activities, characterized as “widespread and persistent illegal poaching” by landowners living near the river and labeled a “very serious threat to the resource” by Bob Duncan, Executive Director of Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), questions remain about why the enforcement effort was not initiated until multiple complaints were filed by local residents as well as DGIF’s plans for preventing a recurrence of the activity in the future.

Clarke County resident Doug Jackson has led the effort to stop the use of illegal cast nets in the Shenandoah River near Berryville, Virginia - Photo Edward Leonard

“For months I had been seeing a good deal of activity in our section of the Shenandoah with people trespassing on our area’s private road. One of the trespassers always seemed to be carrying a casting net” said Clarke resident Doug Jackson. Jackson and his neighbors own nearly a mile of river frontage just south of Watermelon Park. “I was naïve enough to not even think about those casting nets being used to target game fish.”

Cast nets are literally nets designed to be thrown by fishermen into areas where fish are schooling making it possible to catch many fish at one time. The nets can also be pulled through the water by one or more fisherman with similar results.

While the use of cast nets is popular and legal in some saltwater areas, the technique is illegal, along with the use of spear-guns, for catching game fish in the Shenandoah River. Such highly efficient fish harvesting techniques can cause rapid reductions in fish populations with a similar indirect impact on birds and other river species including eagles, heron, osprey, turtles and other wildlife.

Jackson, at 76 a lifetime river enthusiast, says that he has been in love with the Shenandoah River since he was 16 years old; “If there’s anybody in Clarke County that’s spent more time on the Shenandoah River than I have then I’d like to meet them” Jackson said.

Jackson recently recounted several cast net encounters that alarmed him about what was taking place, literally next to his front yard, in the river.

“I came upon a group of seven Hispanic males walking down our private road, one of them with a huge casting net carrying two large channel catfish. I noticed two other men carrying white kitchen trash bags, each half full of sunfish, smallmouth bass of different sizes and redhorse suckers. No exaggeration, I estimated that the men had over two hundred fish in total!   They claimed they didn’t speak English. My wife tried to take pictures with a cell phone but the men turned and ran quickly back into the river. Further down the road we observed, again, no exaggeration, several other groups of Hispanic men casting nets into the river. That evening, in front of our property, there were more Hispanic males at the end of a large island all casting large nets into the deeper holes of the river. We observed fish being taken out of the nets and put into five gallon buckets.”

Jackson described the realization that game fish were being indiscriminately pulled from the river, already weakened from PCB pollution, poultry waste run-off and fish kills, as “heart-breaking”.

Jackson described watching two men in the river with spear-guns and a net on another occasion. “It was unbelievable” he said. “After hovering over a large boulder in the river, one of them shot a six inch fish and put it on a stringer that already had a more of fish on it.”

While it might be tempting to jump to the conclusion that local residents are unfairly blaming Hispanic anglers for local over-fishing problems, Jackson strongly denies the suggestion:

“I’ve been a fisherman all of my life and I am happy to share the river with everyone. But for a recreational fisherman such as myself, who has bought fishing licenses for decades, abided by the game and fishery laws and paid taxes on thousands of dollars of game and fishing items, this kind of illegal activity is gut-wrenching.”

Jackson’s informal observation that many of the fishing law violators are Hispanic is indeed supported by others who are knowledgeable about the illegal fishing issue.

Shenandoah Fish Populations Take a Dive

Mike Capanelli, Marketing Director for Watermelon Park, said that 60% of the people that patronize his campground are from El Salvador. “The Salvadorans say that they like this area because it reminds them exactly of home. They enjoy spending time here near river and the mountains with their families.” On weekends the park population can reach hundreds of people, many of which are Salvadoran.

Shenandoah Riverkeeper and Boyce resident Jeff Kelble says that illegal cast net fishing is a cultural issue more that a race issue. “The idea of sport fishing is not very prevalent in many cultures as it is here in the US. In many countries the goal of fishing is “food”, not recreation. I don’t know if the people using cast nets are “unaware” or “uninterested” in Virginia’s fishing laws but I am definitely seeing an upward trend in the use and complaints about cast nets.”

In 2006, Kelble became the first Shenandoah Riverkeeper through a nonprofit environmental organization that uses citizen action to enforce state and federal laws designed to restore and protect water quality throughout the watershed.

Keble says that in the stretch of river around Watermelon Park “anything with a fin is being taken”. “Fish density from Lockes Landing downstream to just below Watermelon Park has practically dropped off the table” he said.

Conservation Police Officer Carl Martin supervises DGIF operations in Frederick, Warren, Shenandoah, Page and Clarke Counties and oversaw the recent enforcement operations near Watermelon Park. Martin agrees with Keble’s view that the cast net problem has taken a toll on Clarke’s game fish population.

“There is an impact on localized fish populations when large numbers of fish are taken out on a continuing basis” Martin said.

Fisherman in Shenandoah River near Watermelon Park

Other Campgrounds Associated with Cast Net Infractions

However, Martin and Keble have differing opinions on the scope of the problem elsewhere in Martin’s jurisdiction. Asked if the cast net phenomenon plaguing Clarke County was occurring in other parts of Virginia Martin replied “No, it’s not something that we see on every boat patrol.”

Not only does Keble dispute Martin’s statement, Keble says that the cast net problem overlaps other campgrounds similar to Watermelon Park elsewhere on the Shenandoah River.

“The cast net problem is mildly epidemic in other places on the river” Keble said. “I have witnessed it first hand at the Goods Mill campground on the Upper South Fork of the Shenandoah between Lurray and Front Royal. I’ve also seen it at another campground in the Lurray area near where Hawk’s Bill Creek empties into the South Fork.”

Other issues have some local residents questioning DGIF’s ability to address cast netting problems, both locally and statewide.

In an e-mail response regarding “ Shenandoah River – Problem with Casting Nets” sent to local resident Bev MacDonald from DGIF Executive Director Duncan, Duncan says:

“Bev,  please know that yours is the second complaint on this issues in the past  two days and this is the first time that this has been brought to my  attention. I understand share your concerns. I am forwarding a copy of your  e-mail to our law enforcement division and also to our bureau of wildlife  resources so that our law and fisheries staff can provide some background on  this issue.”


Yet,  in a  July 26, 2010 letter from Doug Jackson to Clarke County Supervisor John Staelin, Jackson believes that DGIF has known of the cast netting problem in Clarke County for much longer.    In a letter forwarding video documentation of Clarke cast netting to Staelin, Jackson says:

“It [a DVD containing video documentation] is but a small example of what has been taking place for months (Keith Crider, the game warden, says “a couple of years”!)”

Nor has DGIF taken the initiative to post signs alerting anglers specifically about the illegality of cast net use. Although DGIF says that cast net prohibition sign postings will be considered next week at an administrative meeting, Martin says that fisherman are expected to read and understand DGIF’s regulations before fishing.

“ DGIF publishes a ‘hunting and fishing regulations guide” and the regulations are also available online at the DGIF website.” However, Martin said, neither the hardcopy regulations nor the DGIF website version were available in Spanish.

Martin also said that there had been no coordination between DGIF and Watermelon Park on the cast net issue. “How much say does a landowner have in what goes on in the river?” Martin asked. “People pay to get into the campground and have access to the river. Ultimately it’s each angler’s responsibility to follow the law.”

However, Watermelon Park’s  Capanelli presented a different view of interaction between DGIF and Watermelon Park; “Keith Crider and the park owner are in touch all of the time.” Capanelli said.

Capanelli said that the park is owned by  John Miller, Jr.

Cast nets are illegal for use in catching game fish in the Shenandoah River

Clarke County Conservation Police Officer Crider was contacted several times for comment on this story but did not return calls.

On behalf of the Park,  Capanelli said that, while he did not believe that his campers were necessarily to blame for the illegal fishing, Watermelon Park’s best interest is served when people respect the river and the fishing laws.

Diane, owner of the Watermelon Park Camp Store said in a phone call on Friday, “Our guests are all required to wear arm bands when they enter the park. We do our best to keep other people from sneaking over the fence to get into the park but the people who were given citations could have been anyone.”

Capanelli said that the Park was in the process of having signs printed in English and Spanish that will alert guests about the illegality of cast net fishing.

Concerns about River Environment Health and Human Health

In the short term it appears that DGIF’s primary on-going response to preventing a recurrence of the cast netting problem is periodic patrols of known “hotspots”, a difficult task given that each county, including Clarke, has only one conservation resource officer assigned.

According to Fred Leckie, DGIF Assistant Director of Fisheries;

“We are currently in the middle of the Board’s fish regulation process for  this year, so I believe the best short term approach is to continue  working with you (our constituents), DGIF staff biologists, and DGIF CPOs to keep  the pressure on the immediate “hot spots” on the Shenandoah River. In the  long term, we will investigate impacts of cast nets across the state and  see how we can amend regulations to reduce or eliminate illegal use.”

While DGIF officials in Richmond debate policy issues related to cast nets,  Sergeant Martin said that his objective was to preserve the fishery resource for the continued enjoyment and pleasure of everyone.

However, Shenandoah Riverkeeper Jeff Keble points out a humanitarian issue not mentioned by any of the organizations or citizens involved in the current fish fight; Health concerns for the people consuming the fish.

Consuming fish caught in the Shenandoah River may pose human health risks.

“These fish are poisonous and I assume that families and children are eating what they catch. This river is full of PCB’s and Mercury and the fish should not be eaten” Keble said.

“But when I tell the people fishing they say ‘This river has the cleanest water that we’ve ever seen, much cleaner than any river in our home country’.

When I tell them that you can’t see the Mercury and PCB’s in the water they just laugh. They think that what I’m saying is just a scare tactic.”

Comments

  1. Robert Lesman says:

    As a sport fisherman who loves the Shenandoah and regrets all the negative effects we humans have produced on the river, I too am disappointed at the net fishing and the seemingly lax enforcement of laws pertaining to it. But I agree wholeheartedly with Kelble’s statement that this is basically a matter of cultural difference, in which case our job is one of education. Signs in English and Spanish notifying people of the laws on net fishing are the proper first step. Strict prosecution of offenders is also necessary to help “get the word around” that this activity in not allowed.

    • bob randolph says:

      Thanks, Bob. I think we talked about this matter at your place. Good positive suggestions.

  2. Let’s face it, there are some underlying issues here, this problem is just part of it. Our people and our nation have opened our arms wide to immigrants for centuries now. We all have relatives who came into Ellis Island and who took the time and effort required to become a citizen. They then helped each other build this great nation, giving of themselves more than taking or receiving regardless of the cultures or lands they left behind. They took the time to assimilate and learn the laws of the land.

    What we have now is completely opposite and illegal fishing methods could almost be seen as symbolic of the many other problems we have today due to illegal immigration. Our genourosity is being taken advantage of to some extent. I’ve heard for years now that the area mentioned in this article is a known gathering place for people who are in our country illegally. They are poor and desperate for food even if it is toxic fish of all sorts. But nonetheless, they should know better. They should learn the laws before trying to enter another country. I could not imagine residing in another country without first learning the laws and trying to at least have a basic understanding of the language.

    In conjunction with the crackdown on illegal fishing, perhaps ICE and other immigration officials should be notified as well. If not, I would bet this problem of illegal fishing methods will be a continuing burden at the expense of all citizens and to our eco-system. What efforts that have taken place thus far will be only temporary.

    • “I came upon a group of seven Hispanic males walking down our private road, one of them with a huge casting net carrying two large channel catfish. I noticed two other men carrying white kitchen trash bags, each half full of sunfish, smallmouth bass of different sizes and redhorse suckers. No exaggeration, I estimated that the men had over two hundred fish in total! They claimed they didn’t speak English. My wife tried to take pictures with a cell phone but the men turned and ran quickly back into the river. …”

      That tells me that these [redacted] knew exactly that what they were doing was illegal.

  3. Bud Nagelvoort says:

    Doug Jackson and Jeff Kelble have done a highly commendable job in making this issue known. While I live on the river upstream from Watermelon Park and have not witnessed the illegal activities, after hearing about it from Doug and discussing it with neighbors, it is one more serious threat to the river environment. Particularly interesting to me was the comment in the article that the Shenandoah River was clearer than rivers where some of those fishing illegally came from. We spend billions of tax payers’ dollars to improve water quality in our rivers and streams so that they are safe for human body contact and aquatic life. We develop regulations and spend hundreds of millions on enforcement of regulations to protect aquatic resources to allow sustainable enjoyment and use of those resources. This activity is just one more reminder of the continuing challenges we all face to keep uninformed, thoughtless, and illegal activities from taking place. Thanks Doug and Jeff and thank you to the Clarke Daily News for bringing this issue to public attention.

  4. Last year my lady and I were Kayaking down the river to our vehicle at the RT. 7 bridge. We witnessed a “Fish Factory” in process. There were about 15-20 Hispanic men catching the fish, they would hand the buckets of fish to children who in turn brought them to several women who were cleaning,scaling them, and layering them on ice in very large coolers. It was astounding that they must have believed that what they where doing was legal. I did not have my cell phone with us otherwise I would have informed the authorities..Very damaging to the welfare of the river, and the fish are not labeled safe to eat poses health issues..

    • Some of the fish I saw being “Iced Down” were very small Bluegills about 4 inches long. That is very disturbing that the young fish are being depleted and harms the in-river ecosystem.

  5. Bville-Bud says:

    Yes there is certainly a cultural difference. One culture supports legal activities and respects the law, the other culture doesn’t. Signs in Spanish are not going to make a difference. I’m glad that our hard working law enforcement is taking a stand, but I’d bet you a dollar that not one of the offenders shows up in court.

    • Here here! We all know about the wink-wink hush-hush puff-puff other illegal activity the [redacted] is involved in, so he’s as much to blame as the illegal immigrants.

      • Guess you don’t get down to the river much RW, not surprised. It’s far from just WMP, it’s the whole stretch of river from the 7 bridge south, and along the golf course. [redacted]

        I don’t think anyone knows what the [redacted] you are talking about (wink hush puff). Just more baseless accusations from good ole RW.

        • Go ahead, live your life with blinders on. It’s a well-known secret in CC.

          • I like WMP, have been stayed there many time, will continue to go there, and have never seen any illegal activity, nor heard of any, and have lived in that part of the county close to 20 years.

          • Gee, that’s funny. [redacted] people who LIVE RIGHT ACROSS FROM WMP say that activity has been occurring for months and they see it almost every day at that site. [redacted] Take your blinders off.

          • Why doesn’t CDN allow links or references to other local news websites when used as a reference point?

            CDN Editor: CDN provides a news source and discussion forum about Clarke County, Virginia, that is “free” to its readers. Many have complimented our site on its ease of use and accessibility. Other local and national news sources provide similar services, some cost money while others do not. CDN encourages readers to take advantage of all news sources available, however, CDN does not aspire to be a routing mechanism for other news services.

  6. TruthSeekerVA says:

    This is a serious problem in Loudoun County too!!! Take a kayak trip down Goose Creek and you will see these operations, on a smaller scale, taking place.

  7. This problem is not just isolated to the Watermelon Park, Rt.7 area. We reside 3 miles down river from the Rt.50 bridge at Berry’s Ferry Landing. We usually put our kayaks in there and paddle down stream to our residence. Several times we have arrived at the boat ramp and families of Hispanics have set up a large group picnic to the side of the ramp.Several of the males there appeared intoxicated and trash scattered about. Many of them also were waist deep in the water “Fishing”.This isn’t intended to “Bash” anyone’s ethnicity, just becoming more of a problem, and lack of law enforcement adds to it. I hope that this article will make people more aware of the Trespassing and illegal fishing.

  8. As the Zoning Administrator for Clarke County I have spoken with Mr. Miller, the owner of Watermelon Park, and he is very concerned about this type of fishing and how it could ultimately reduce the fish population in the river because many of the Hispanic population keeps every size fish that is caught. Mr. Miller is currently posting signs throughout his campground and at the admissions gate stating that net fishing as illegal and carries a penalty of up to $1,000. The sign is in both English and Spanish. As a citizen of the County, we all should report this type of illegal fishing to the authorities right away. With today’s cell phone use it can be reported while canoeing down the river. Arrest enough people and the word will get out quickly that Clarke County is not going to have their river depleted by those who either don’t care or are ignorant of our laws.
    Jesse Russell

  9. BvilleDWO says:

    I have witnessed this rampant illegal activity along the Shenandoah and it sickens me. Do any of you remember that image of an Indian with a tear streaming down his cheek? How do you think that image (which should represent our entire country) react to what is happening to our waterways now?
    When I saw the nets being used again and again, I called the Game Warden. He advised that it was LEGAL activity.
    Perhaps we need to start with officials that truly know and care about what is going on. Further: don’t expect Watermelon Park to do anything except defend this activity as they collect significant funds every day by charging admittance to their park. On the banks of Watermelon Park, I witnessed hundreds and hundreds of fish being cleaned and gutted by approximatly 15 hispanics five of which had nets. The scales and guts were being dumped into the Shenandoah. For Watermelon Park to portray that they knew nothing of this activity is a bold-faced lie.
    Last, but certainly not least: MS13 is a cut-throat, brutal gang that has become prevalent in the Northern Virginia area. Their members are El Salvadoran. You draw the connection.
    This article while useful is about two years too late.

  10. Perhaps now that it has been determined that cops can ask for proof of citizenship from suspected illegals, the Sheriffs Department and ICE can float the lenght of the river with paddywagons in tow and get rid of this riff raff

    • Yeah, I’m sure that’s going to happen. You must be dreaming. It’s going to take a “minuteman” type of organization, not the understaffed Clarke Co. Sheriff’s office.

      • I’m down with the “Minuteman” type of organization. Start a citizen patrol, have a constant presence on the river. Also, how hard would it be to pass a law that states you need to display a valid drivers license AND fishing license to purchase a casting net?

  11. Deputize some people. I’m sure there would be some volunteers

  12. River Watcher says:

    Dear Folks & Neighbors,

    It seems to me by the negative votes that some people just don’t believe what’s really been going on.

    I also live along the river, I’ve been seeing exactly what Mr. Jackson and the others have observed since last spring. Bravo to you all!

    I’ve called our local Game Warden 3 times on this issue first time was last spring from the banks of WMP. Last call was the day after this Memorial Day. All 3 times I was told it is legal. One would think that their Game Warden knew what he was talking about.

    I believe this is the reason nothing was done until recently.

    When arriving to WMP the people casting nets are in plain sight, there’s always at least 12 men in the river. For anyone to say they didn’t know this was going on, either turned a blind eye to it, they don’t care or haven’t been to WMP in years. Or perhaps they think they are above the law. I dont believe it’s a coincidence that every time I’m there it’s the only time it occurs. Driving by on either side of the river they’re clearly visible. I’ve taken many pictures of this from the banks of WMP and a few from the trashed access off my road. I won’t get into how many times I’ve hauled trash out of there in some places almost knee deep.

    100’s of fish are caught (captured) and cleaned right there in WMP. 100’s of fish are cooked and consumed in mass quainty in plain sight right in WMP. Their nets are thrown about everywhere to dry out, yes that’s right in plain sight.

    My out of town guests could not believe what they were seeing, at this point it began to be embarrassing. They were in total disbelief as I was that this was legal. All of us being outdoors people our whole lives, have never seen 100’s of fish being cleaned especially in a organized fashion. I think when I saw them cleaning baby bass is when I lost my mind, the bait fish just made me say to myself they’re disgusting. Bass no longer than 4-5 inches at least 15. I didn’t realize how many sucker fish we had in the river until I saw them hauling them up to the cleaning station. This just wasn’t the group next to us this was happening the entire length of the park.

    I didn’t want to tube anymore for the fact how much you see walking through, then tubing down the river. I see the looks on peoples’ faces as they’re passing by in their canoes, mouths hanging, shaking their heads, stopped and just staring, to me looks like they’re in disbelief of what there seeing. Been there!

    This is just not happening here it’s from Front Royal to Harpers Ferry WV. Bloomery/Millville WV Bloomery RD. is a well known hot spot. It’s a well known fact what else they have been dealing with, MS 13. Before you judge or want to be in denial of this, there are many articles online that back this up. I know this because I’ve been there more than once to find out the WRONG way who some of those people are. Here’s a helpful article, I hope I’m allowed to post a website: http://www.policeone.com/news/118023-Latin-gang-gets-a-toehold-in-rural-W-Vir/

    If not please do some research, there are many articles on this issue across the Shenandoah Valley.
    All this activity is along the Shenandoah River.

    As for our Game Warden, I hold him accountable for how long this has been going on. I sincerely hope he loses his position! Lying to the residents is NOT part of the job. I will help to press the issue for his dismissal.

    I want what’s best for this County as I intend to live out the rest of my life here.

    One day I hope to be the Mr. Jackson on the Shenandoah River. Bravo Sir!
    To many more years…

    Help save the Shenandoah! Thank you, peace.

    • The news story is from 5 years ago, so that makes me optimistic that this so called gang activity along the Shenandoah may be under control more so now. Do you know of any recent reports.

  13. Berryville is Home says:

    The reason that we moved to Berryville was the beautiful countryside, the genuine people and the pace of life.
    I am grateful for this article bringing things to light and creating attention to a horrific problem and concern.
    I am so encouraged that there are people commenting and showing how much they care. It makes me believe that if we all come together we can make a difference and win back our town and preserve the beauty that attracted us to our home.

  14. Watermelon Park is not the villain here. While it’s upto everyone to be observant and report violations it’s not their job to enforce the law. It’s good to see they have posted appropriate signs, but without active enforcement, the signs mean nothing. No the real weak link in the chain is the game warden. Telling people the practice of net fishing is legal? No returned calls or response when people report incidents? This guy should be fired! Dereliction of duty and gross incompetence

    • Maybe he just needs some retraining? I never knew net casting was illegal until this issue arose. Maybe net casting wasn’t a high priority item for his department? With all the hunting done in this area, I would think he’d be more concerned about folks carrying guns rather than fishing nets.

      • This comment on the heels of another RW comment, “but to me, right and wrong is black and white. No gray area.” I guess failure in a job doesn’t go into the right or wrong, black and white. Maybe we need to hold his hand, give him another try…

        The MOST IMPORTANT THING with teens and anyone else in consistency in rules and consequences. Your position is incredibly inconsistent.

        • Gotcha. It’s not what is being said, it’s just who is saying it that gets you all in a huff. You walked right into that one. Didn’t take long.

          • Nice attempt to deflect and redirect, (a consistent strategy of true right wingers)

            No the warden needs to answer for his failure and your duplicity just made a feature appearance in the comments about this article.

            Accountability for public employees is the foundation of solving problems like this and many other. When they fail, and fail in a public way, they should be disciplined appropriately.

            Retraining? Maybe we should contact DGIF and find out if they think he has been adequately trained because if you read the little pamphlet available to all anglers who are required to purchase a license, it clearly states in the first line of the General Freshwater Fishing Regulations

            “Fishing in inland waters must be by angling with a hook and line or rod and reel.”

            If he needs to be retrained to get that then there is a much deeper problem.

          • Face it, you just don’t like me or my ideas. That’s okay, I have no problem with that.

            But, by advocating that the game warden should lose his job over this, you are following the same ideal you espoused earlier because it was my ideal. It’s a double-standard you have, and many other folks as well. Besides, this is about a game warden who may have made a mistake. Your other issue with my ideals was about a drunk who killed someone. Make up your mind. I don’t have problems with inconsistency, you do.

            Oh, and just because I go by Right Winger, doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a right wing conservative GOP supporter.

          • Wow on top of it all you refuse to follow a thread (which we have seen before).

            I never said he should lose his job, Tom did. I said they should be disciplined appropriately.

            Perhaps you should follow along a little more closely and not rely on pre-programmed answers.

          • You’re the one who brought up the other thread, not me. Perhaps you should pay more attention to what you say and not others.

  15. I spent this past weekend at Watermelon Park, there was quite a bit of cast netting going on until it was pointed out to the WMP staff. they shut it down quickly once notified, however as it was in plain site, I think it should have been stopped sooner.

  16. nancy martin says:

    And so it begins. The national angst over illegal immigration is writ large all over the recent WMP news events. It’s bigger than personnel, bigger than legislation, much, much bigger than posting bilingual signs. I hope we can enter this national dialogue with an eye on conservation, health, cultural awareness and compassion. Man, that’s a big job for all those involved.

  17. Let’s take note of the fact that twice (just what’s been reported) now the illegals have done violent acts in this area. The killing by MS13 of a govt. witness kidnapped and brought here in Clarke for her execution and the more recent stabbing right there in Watermelon Park. Both incidents done by illegals.

    Note also the DGIF reluctance to state just how short staffed they are. As they say, “each county has only one officer assigned.” Yes, the same officer does all of them. It is not unusual to call the sheriff on a game issue and get your return call from one of the F&W police officers hours or days later. By then the culprit you called about is long gone of course.

    What is really sad as a tax payer is there is a fair sized US ICE and Border Patrol facility right there in Harper’s Ferry. Supposedly a refresher training school. You would think that just once they would visit the Shenandoah and get some real world On The Job Training. We need fewer Border Patrolman taking lunch at the Charles Town Pizza Hut (witnessed) and more of them visiting Watermelon Park’s area.

  18. River Watcher says:

    Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley
    Cast nets illegal for taking game fish… On July 17h – 18, Sgt. Carl Martin and Conservation Police Officers Keith Crider, Beth Harold, and Rob Ham conducted a plain-clothes special operation on the Shenandoah River in Clarke County. This operation targeted the illegal use of cast nets for the taking of game fish near Watermelon Park. On September 2, 2010, eight of ten defendants (cases were continued for two) appeared in Clarke County General District Court and entered guilty pleas to violating 29.1-531, taking and/or possession of game fish by illegal methods. The court imposed fines ranging from $100 to $250. In addition, five cast nets and five mesh bags used to hold the fish were forfeited to VDGIF for educational and outreach efforts.

    http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/outdoor-report/2010/09/22/index.asp

  19. River Watcher says:

    Just another summer day in WMP. I did find this funny but embarrassing at the same time. Id also like to bring it to everyones attention to read my above posting.TY

    August2010
    The river was beautiful. Mike was great. Staff was friendly. The tubing was AWESOME. The campsites were the biggest I’ve ever seen. Nice, wide, more than enough room. We arrived on a Thursday and left on Sunday and also had some tent people meeting us there. For us, the stay was nice. For the tent people not so great due to the bath houses being completely disgusting. You also have to bring quarters with you to use the showers which the website doesn’t disclose. A certain nationality of people showed up Friday night, by the hundreds. Things went downhill from there. They were loud, dirty and I think the bath house situation was because of them. They played loud music, left their trash everywhere, sped through the campground. Border patrol was all over the place and cops frequented the campsite over the weekend. On Sunday, they all packed up and left. They left garbage EVERYWHERE. I felt so bad for the owners to have to clean up such a mess. This is such a beautiful place to camp. I hope the owners can figure out a way to deter the illegals (I’m assuming illegal with so much border patrol officers around).

    http://www.rvparkreviews.com/regions/Virginia/Berryville.html

    • Obviously, that guy was a bigot (sarcasm off)

      • River Watcher says:

        I read all the reviews that person wrote seems like a mild mannered peaceful person.
        Maybe I should have posted another users review, one where they used the words ‘Bad Element’ arrived.
        There was many bad reviews on several websites, one described it as a drunken free for all good time and the staff turns a blind eye to it.

        My point on this is what vacationers/tourists think of our area. Its beautiful here its not how I want people to remember it.

        • Naked Truth says:

          It all comes down to the owners of Watermelon Park. I think they are alright with the “party” atmosphere. Don’t just blame the brown skinned people. I know many white people who go there to party! As far as the trash left behind. Again, it is up to the owners. They should patrol their own property. If this was an issue of house renters in your nieborhood, wouldn’t it come down on the property owners?

    • Its described to a T what happens and goes on there.

      I couldn’t imagine being there on a outing and found out I was in the middle of a raid.
      Sounds like more went down there than we were told. Don’t know how they could have mistaken Game Wardens for Border patrol agents.
      Perhaps this was the incident that was in the police reports on gang activity unit Aug 26th.