Hunting and fishing licenses in North Carolina have become more affordable for older residents. The news comes as census data shows the population there is getting older, including the mountains.
The High Country is home to some of the state's best trout waters. Rivers like the New, Watauga, and Mitchell attract a multitude of fishermen every year seeking brook, brown, and rainbow trout.
Now the state has made it easier. In October, lawmakers cut the cost of a lifetime sportsman license by about half for people ages 50 to 69. It applies to hunting and inland fishing.
Officials with the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission say they dump around 150 fish per acre in big rivers like the Watauga, as many as six times per year.
From trout fishing alone, the statewide economic impact is more than $300 million dollars annually.
According to census figures, almost all of the counties that make up the High Country have a higher proportion of people aged 65 or older compared to the statewide average. In Alleghany, they make up more than a quarter of the population.
The lone exception to that aging trend in the High Country is Watauga County, where thousands of Appalachian State University students factor into the age distribution.