State Department of Fish & Wildlife proposes closing Steelhead fishing

So folks, here you are. Since the citizens of this state gave a clear message that there are to be no new taxes, and that some taxes were to be rolled back, and that the economy is still stuck in a rut, the State is being forced to deal with a massive budget shortfall without any new revenue streams, and frankly, with less. Hope that all of you that voted against all taxes are now willing to step up and help the fishing community save their fisheries. There are lots of fishing jobs at stake here, from gear and bait sellers, guides, and many others. The choice for our lawmakers is clear, social service agencies helping our most poor and vulnerable, higher education, or fishing. I think it will be a hard sell. There are some ideas about how to deal with this below..


State proposes hunting, fishing license increase

By ALLEN THOMAS, The Vancouver Columbian

State wildlife officials have drafted a blueprint for the first across-the-board increase in hunting and fishing license fees in 14 years.

A resident freshwater fishing license would jump from $26 to $29.50 and a combination freshwater-saltwater-shellfish resident license from $48.20 to $54.25. An elk license would increase from $45.20 to $57, while a deer license would decrease from $45.20 to $44.90.

While most licenses would cost more, fees for youth, seniors and disabled veterans would decrease.

Increases in commercial fishing fees also are proposed.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is facing a $10 million to $20 million shortfall in state General Fund money plus about a $10 million reduction in the state Wildlife Account, which mostly comes from license revenue, in the 2011-13 budget cycle.

Phil Anderson, department director, said cuts might include 20 wildlife enforcement jobs, closure of seven to 11 fish hatcheries, elimination of steelhead fishing in Puget Sound tributaries and closure of some of the agency’s 700 public access areas.

Anderson is making appearances around the state explaining the potential license increases and seeking reaction. New license fees require action by the state Legislature.

“We’ve got to have relatively broad-base support or the Legislature isn’t going to buy it and we’re going to be faced with a whole bunch of cuts,” Anderson told the Columbia River recreational and commercial advisory groups in Vancouver recently.

The department is looking at a variety of ways to increase revenue to maintain its programs status quo, he said.

Other revenue measures, besides a license fee increase, are:

* Switching the money from saltwater fishing, shellfish and razor clam licenses from the General Fund (where it can be used for any purpose) to the state Wildlife Account. That would help to the tune of $3 million a biennium.

* Switching commercial license fees from the General Fund to the department. That would add about $2 million.

* Adding a commercial fishing license “administrative fee” of either $70 or $105 per license.

* Charging a fee for Hydraulics Permit Approvals, the environmental review required to work in state waterways. The fee would provide $3.3 million.

* Creating an “Explore Washington Pass” with the state Department of Natural Resources.

The pass would be required to use the 5 million acres of lands managed by the departments of Fish and Wildlife and Natural Resources.

Anderson said the pass would cost $5 for hunting or fishing license buyers and $40 for others age 18 and older.

One- and three-day passes would be available.

State lawmakers early this year approved a 10 percent surcharge on hunting and fishing license fees, but that ends on June 30, 2011.

An $8.75 annual Columbia River salmon-steelhead endorsement was initiated in 2010.

That would continue, but drop to $7.10 for youth under this proposal.

Anderson said the last general fee increase was in 1996.

The proposed fee increases got a mixed reaction from the advisory groups.

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2 Responses

  1. Nope, don’t buy into this. This is classic dfw/state retaliatory strategy. Instead of cost saving by getting rid of every other upper and middle manager: let’s see. The list:( multiple) assistant directors, deputy assistant directors, deputy directors, DEPUTY assistant directors, REGIONAL directors, regional managers, and yes regional ASSISTANT managers -I’m not kidding- who do NOTHING except get in the way of staff trying to manage the resource, the agency takes the most cherished public activity and closes it.. No wonder our state budget is in the big swirl. It will only continue as long as this punitive ‘screw you back’ attitude it leading our resource management. Awful.

    • People with tea party mentality who want to strangle virtually every public cause and project (except perhaps crop subsidies and tax reduction for the wealthy) need to learn that there will be no free lunch for anyone! ) If we have to reduce law enforcement staffs and other important social services, it should be no surprise to the tea party that we can’t afford to raise 10″ trout for you and me to play with.
      I recommend $50.00 license fees with the protection that 100% of the license revenue stays in the Dept. of fish & wildlife. (Ask any golfer whether $50.00 per year is a bargain to play golf 365 days per year!!!!!!!!)

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