Will Increase In 2001
|If you havent shelled out $75 for a lifetime conservation stamp, it may be time to begin considering the investment.
Since its inception in 1983, the annual purchase of a $5 conservation stamp has been mandatory for most Wyoming resident and nonresident hunters and anglers. On January 1, 2001, the conservation stamp price will climb to $10.
The Wyoming Legislature approved the conservation stamp increase in March, along with a handful of other license fee adjustments. The new license fees begin January 1, 2001.
"With these increases, we were only looking to maintain our present level of programs and services for a few more years. Inflation will catch up to us again," says Deputy Director Bill Wichers. "The conservation stamp increase is a big plus for the Game and Fish Department."
Of the new $10 fee, $2.50 will be sent to an account for acquiring access easements to private and public lands for hunting and fishing, $3.75 will go to the G&Fs operating fund and $3.75 will be placed in a new G&F trust account. Interest from the new trust account will be used for future department operations.
Based on 1998 conservation stamp sales, the G&F will gross about $1.8 million annually in revenue from conservation stamp sales. Of this, $675,000 will go to the new trust account, $675,000 to the G&Fs operating fund and $450,000 to an access easement account. Money from the access easement account could be used to fund the popular walk-in access and hunter management programs.
"By placing $3.75 from the sale of every stamp into a trust, legislators made a very prudent long-term financial decision for Game and Fish," Wichers says. "Twenty to 30 years from now, interest from the trust account will be a very significant source of income."
Deer licenses will rise from $22 to $25 for residents and from $185 to $210 to nonresidents. Youth deer licenses remain unchanged. Nonresident daily small game and upland bird licenses increase from $10 to $15 and nonresident daily fishing licenses rise from $6 to $10. The fee adjustments should increase G&F annual income by about $2.1 million.
Legislators also approved one license fee decrease. The cost of a resident mountain lion hunting license will decrease from $30 to $20 on January 1, 2001.
Another change is a $3 application fee for residents applying for big game licenses in the drawing. The fee will not apply to residents buying general deer and elk licenses over the counter. Nonresident big and trophy game hunters already pay a $10 fee for most big and trophy game licenses.
The $3 resident application fee will bring in about $320,000 a year. "Combined with the $10 nonresident application fee, it pretty well covers all of our application processing costs," Wichers adds.
Wichers says it costs more to process a nonresident application than one for residents. "We mail almost all of our nonresident application books. We dont have to do that with resident application books," he says.
G&F costs include printing and mailing application booklets, paying workers to process the 200,000-plus resident and nonresident applications, paying the state to conduct the limited quota drawings, mailing licenses and regulations to successful applicants and paying the state auditor to mail refunds to unsuccessful applicants.
Developing long-term funding will be a key G&F goal in the future. "Weve got to figure out a way to deal with inflation in a better manner than we have done in the past," Wichers adds. "One of the more popular things noted by the public has been to come back with more frequent but smaller fee increases in the future."
Wichers says its important for citizens to realize that hunters and anglers pay for the conservation programs in Wyoming. The G&F does not receive any funding from the Legislature. "User fees pay the way for wildlife in Wyoming, not taxes. There are no mandatory contributions," he says. "Hunting and fishing license fees and federal excise taxes, through hunting and fishing equipment and motorboat fuel sales, pay the way."
As more and more is demanded from wildlife agencies, including threatened and endangered species management and watchable wildlife programs, people who dont hunt and fish must begin to pay their fair share for wildlife conservation.
"We will have to tap into the general public to help fund the things that they participate in, but dont pay for," Wichers says.
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