License boost looking likely

Albany – A sweeping license fee restructuring proposal put forth
by the Conservation_Fund Advisory Board would generate millions in
additional revenues and at least temporarily address a huge deficit
in the fund.

The proposal, hammered out last month with the assistance of DEC
officials, would still need to be crafted into formal legislation
to even be considered for approval. But the plan clearly points to
the likelihood that hunters, anglers and trappers – both residents
and nonresidents – could pay more to pursue those activities this
fall.

“The CFAB proposal reflects the need to cover the entire deficit
and make the fund solvent for at least three years,”_New York
Conservation Council_President Harold Palmer indicated following
the board meeting and subsequent session in which DEC_Commissioner
Pete Grannis sat down with sportsmen’s representatives. “These
figures are without the trout or pheasant stamps or any revenue
from the (saltwater) fishing license.”

CFAB_Chairman Charles Hancock said the proposal recommendation
has been forwarded to the Assembly and Senate environmental
conservation committees.

Indications are the proposed $10 trout/salmon stamp and a
pheasant stamp that was under consideration have now been scrapped.
A proposed saltwater fishing license remains in Gov. David
Paterson’s budget proposal, but indications are that plan is doomed
to legislative failure since all the money generated from it
wouldn’t be funneled into DEC’s marine account.

The CFAB, which serves in an advisory capacity to DEC on matters
involving expenditures within the Conservation_Fund, unanimously
supported the proposed license restructuring plan at its Feb. 9
meeting. That endorsement, however, came with the provision that
DEC would offer a full accounting of its operations and would also
work to support a “conservation tax” on outdoor-related purchases
to generate additional funds.

Indications are that implementing such as tax is a long shot,
and even if approved wouldn’t be put in place for several
years.

That’s why the license fee hike is deemed necessary to address
the deficit in the Conservation Fund, which is currently at about
$13 million but projected to soar to near $50 million over the next
five years unless more revenue is generated.

Under the CFAB proposal, many license fees would be increased
and an additional $10.1 million would be generated based on
projections. Typically, however, license increases result in at
least a slight decline in sales, so that number could be
smaller.

License fees and their proposed rates for 2009-10 under the CFAB
plan are:

Resident licenses

€ Conservation Legacy, $96 (currently $76).

€ Super Sportsman, $88, a $20 increase from the current $68.

€ Sportsman, $47 ($37).

€ Senior Sportsman (65 and older), $10 ($5).

€ Small and Big Game, $29 ($19).

€ Fishing, $29 ($19).

€ Senior Fishing (70 and older), $5, unchanged.

€ Fishing (blind), $5 (previously free).

€ Deer Management Permits, $5 and $10 (previously $0 and
$10).

€ Military Disability, $5 (no change).

€ Bowhunting, $21 ($16).

€ Senior bowhunting (70 and older), will remain free.

€ Junior bowhunting, unchanged at $9.

€ Muzzleloading, $21 (up from $16).

€ Senior muzzleloading (70 and older), will remain free.

€ Small game, $26 ($16).

€ Junior small game, unchanged at $5.

€ Turkey permit, $10 ($5).

€ Trapping, $21 ($16).

€ Senior trapping (75 and older), $5 ($0).

€ 7-Day Fishing, $15, up from $12.

€ 1-Day Fishing, no longer offered (previously $15).

Nonresident licenses

€ Super Sportsman, $280, up from $250.

€ Big Game, $140 ($110).

€ Bowhunting, $140 ($110).

€ Junior bowhunting, unchanged at $9.

€ Muzzleloading, $140 ($110).

€ Bear, $50 ($30).

€ Small Game, $85 ($55).

€ Junior small game, $10 (up from $5).

€ Turkey, $50 ($30).

€ Trapping, $310 ($255).

€ Fishing, $70 ($40).

€ 7-Day fishing, $35 ($25).

€ 1-Day fishing, $25 ($15).

€ Conservation Patron, $12 (unchanged).

Lifetime licenses

€ Sportsman (ages 0-4), $318 (up from $300).

€ Sportsman (5-11), $534 ($420).

€ Sportsman (12-65), $762 ($600).

€ Sportsman (65 and older), $64 ($50).

€ Small and big game, $534 ($350).

€ Fishing (ages 0-64), $458 ($300).

€ Fishing (65 and older), $100 ($50).

€ Trapping, $529 ($300).

€ Bowhunting, $317 ($180).

€ Muzzleloading, $317 ($180).

DEC_Assistant Director of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources
Doug Stang said that while the department “facilitated”_discussions
on a new license fee proposal and served as a technical reference,
DEC’s official position parallels that of Gov. David Paterson’s
budget.

Late last month he said the proposal had not been vetted with
the governor’s office or DEC_”so I can’t say whether or not DEC is
on board with this proposal.”

Stang said the CFAB plan – barring any significant reductions in
license sales or changes in the costs borne by the Conservation
Fund – “provides sufficient revenues to support programs at current
levels for two, maybe three years.”

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