Friday, January 30, 2009

Legislative Leadership Conference

Steve Ritter photo

Fish and Game Pitches Revenue Increase--Again
Boise--For the second time in the past two months, Idaho Fish and Game Director Cal Groen pitched his plan raise Fish and Game revenue to grass root Farm Bureau members.

The increase uses a new approach called the differential fee schedule, according to Fish and Game Director Groen who also addressed the issue of wolf management and thinning elk herds to Idaho farmers.

Groen added that differential fees would help keep prices lower for more general licenses and permits; Groen made the comments at a special field trip to the Fish and Game Headquarters trophy room.

Under this proposal, high-quality; hunting and fishing opportunities would cost more than general opportunities. For example, hunting for trophy bull elk would cost more than hunting for an antlerless elk.

The proposed fee increases is less for Idaho residents than non-residents. Groen said that a resident combination license would increase 11 percent, to $35.25, while a nonresident one would increase 20 percent to $238.25.

If approved by the Legislature, the proposal would raise almost $7 million annually. Eighty percent would help catch the department with inflation pressures from everything from fuel to fish food costs, and state requirements like wages and health care. The other 20 percent would go to on-the-ground projects that benefit hunters and anglers.

Director Groen answered a few tough questions from Farm Bureau Members but was warmly recieved. Members appreciate the directors honesty and his desire to reach out to landowners.

Senate Pro Tem Bob Geddes addressed the conference the next day but was less than ethusiastic about a fee increase in tough economic times. "The bill is sitting on my desk right now, its under a stack of legislation," said Geddes.

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