CHARLESTON — Public opinion surveys helped mold Division of Natural Resources policy this year, evidenced by rule proposals advanced this week by a House committee.

One of them maintains existing policy on alcoholic beverages, limiting hard liquor to Chief Logan State Park and the log barn at Prickett’s Fort near Fairmont.

In a new wrinkle, however, the DNR is proposing that guests be allowed to keep domestic animals — dogs and cats, namely — at specific cabins in some parks.

The proposed rule would not allow animals to be inside lodges, however, since these are hotel-like structures and not all guests would welcome them, explained Hoy Murphy, communications chief for the DNR. Pets would only be permitted in standalone cabins, as designated.

“Camping areas have always allowed leashed animals,” Murphy said.

“This would be new as far as indoor facilities are concerned. They could go inside the cabins.”

In advance of making its rule proposals, the DNR conducted surveys last year from the general public on both the pets and alcohol issues.

Allowing pets passed muster with the public in the survey, but the opposition to any expansion of the alcohol rule was “overwhelming,” Murphy said.

“People were very much against an alcohol change,” he said.

The proposal had called for the use of alcohol at specific functions in some parks, such as a wedding reception, at the discretion of the DNR director.

A possible plus to the revised pet policy is enticing more visitors, since many often travel with their dogs and cats, he noted.

“A lot of retired couples in the country, traveling in Winnebagos, take their dogs with them,” Murphy said.

“A lot of them will make a decision on where to stay if they can keep the dogs with them. That’s what we’re trying to find out — whether it will draw that audience.”

As parks seek ways to become self-sufficient, he said, the system looked at allowing pets in certain cabins as one way of attracting more customers.

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