The Izaak Walton League, which runs clubs for hunters and fishermen throughout the country, has made its first major land protection acquisition in the East.
The league's endowment came up with $130,000 last month to buy 611 acres of private land surrounded by the George Washington National Forest in Virginia.
The league was asked to make the purchase by the National Forest Service, which intends to purchase the tract from the league when the required funds are authorized, according to IWL Executive Director Jack Lorenz.
The land includes the Three High Heads, a string of peaks near Vance's Cove about four miles east of the West Virginia line on Rte. 55. It also encompasses about a half-mile of Paddy's Run, a trout stream.
The land was the largest of three tracts sold at auction by the owners, Warren and Carl Orndorff. Lorenz said the league has sought for about five years to make a major acquisition in the East, but this is the first it was able to bid on successfully.
The endowment has about $600,000 set aside for land purchases of this type, where the government needs a fast-acting private agency to buy desirable land and hold it for government purchase, Lorenz said. Until now, most of the IWL's purchases have been in the National Boundary Waters canoe area in Minnesota.
The tract is excellent game land that has been used in recent years principally for deer and turkey hunting and for fishing.
The league will permit hunting this year with written permission, Lorez said. He expects that by next year the Forest Service will have taken over, and it will be open to all hunters.
"We hope they'll buy it quickly," he added. "We want to turn it over as fast as we can so we can get the money working the same way somewhere else."