Clarifying Separate Pots of Marine Money

There were more than a few distortions about the state budget
and water quality testing in Ohio’s inland lakes in a story
published on Sunday, Aug. 14 in The (Columbus) Dispatch.

The story implies the state is short changing testing for water
quality in its inland lakes and streams, while spending millions to
build recreational facilities on those waterways and stock them
with fish.

That implication twists the truth and is unfair to Ohio’s sportsmen
who pick up much of the tab for the improvements discussed.

Money spent by the Ohio EPA to assess stream and lake water quality
comes from a different “pot” than money spent to build boat docks
and ramps – and stock fish.

The Ohio EPA will spend $80,000 in taxpayer dollars this year to
survey the water quality of lakes in two south-central watersheds.
It’s all part of a routine testing program designed to monitor the
chemical and biological make up of those watersheds and establish
baseline data, according to Erin Strouse, agency
spokesperson.

But the $7.7 million earmarked for construction of boat docks,
launch ramps and other improvements does not involve general
revenue (state tax) funds.

Those projects are paid for through boating license and permit
fees, a portion of the marine gas tax, as well as grants from the
U.S. Coast Guard, according to John Wisse of the Ohio DNR’s
watercraft division.

Nor are general revenue funds involved in the $1.8 million spent by
the Ohio DNR’s wildlife division to maintain the state fish
hatcheries and stock sportfish. It’s fishing license fees, as well
as a federal tax on fishing and boating equipment, that pay for
those efforts.

In short, it’s the folks who use and enjoy Ohio’s outdoor
recreational facilities that pay for their construction and upkeep
– not the average taxpayer on the street.

Ohio and federal laws keep the “pots” separate for a reason – to
ensure a user pay-user benefit system of funding for those who
spend their recreational time in the state’s great outdoors.

Categories: Ohio – Jane Beathard

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