House Bill 17-1321 (i.e. increases in fishing licenses….)
Partners in Conservation,
Last week, Colorado lawmakers introduced House Bill 17-1321, designed to bring stable and sustainable funding to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). This bill enables CPW to obtain financial resources needed to provide the wildlife management, state park system and outdoor recreation opportunities that we as Coloradans value so highly. A fact sheet and additional information on H.B. 17-1321 is available on the CPW website here: http://cpw.state.co.us/Sustain
CPW is an enterprise agency that typically receives no general fund dollars (income and sales tax dollars). CPW relies on revenue from hunters, anglers and park visitors to cover its expenses. State and federal law mandates that funding for wildlife management and for the park management within the agency remain completely separate. H.B. 17-1321, sponsored by Representative Arndt, Wilson, Catlin, Rankin, McLachlan, and Mitsch Bush, would provide the 11-member Parks and Wildlife Commission – which governs the agency – with authority to set parks, hunting and fishing fees within a legislatively mandated cap. Giving the Commission the ability to set and adjust fees will allow CPW to cover the rising costs associated with managing wildlife, protecting habitat and maintaining and improving parks in our fast-growing state.
Colorado state parks see more than 13 million visitors per year. Park entrance fees have not increased since 2010. Sportsmen and women provide 80 percent of CPW funding for wildlife through hunting and fishing. The last price increase for resident licenses was in 2005. Since then, inflation has cut CPW’s spending power by 22 percent leading the agency to defund 50 positions and cut $40 million from its budget, as well as defer maintenance on its 110 dams. CPW finds it increasingly difficult to provide the value sportsmen, sportswomen and park users expect.
This bill proposes to:
- Phase in increased park fees and resident hunting and fishing license prices, generally by no more than 50 percent of current levels, and allow for adjusting prices to keep up with inflation.
- Sets the fee for an annual senior fishing license at no more than one-half the price of annual resident fishing licenses.
- Increase application fees for limited hunting licenses allocated through a drawing to $20.
- Create registration fees for motorized and non-motorized watercraft to help pay for the Aquatic Nuisance Species program.
Introduction of H.B. 17-1321 follows more than a year of public meetings with legislators and outdoor enthusiasts across Colorado to gather feedback on addressing the agency’s financial challenges. More than 85 percent of meeting attendees voiced support for a resident license fee increase.
Without increased revenue, CPW will have to continue scaling back wildlife and park management and conservation efforts in Colorado, impacting wildlife and the quality of outdoor recreation. Let’s keep working together to overcome financial challenges and conserve Colorado’s wildlife and beautiful places.
Colorado Department of Natural Resources