A rejected bill to increase fees to fishing and hunting licenses would have helped pull the Colorado Parks and Wildlife out of a fiscal crunch but has just been stopped by the Senate Finance Committee.
The increased cash flow would have helped reduce a projected $22 million budget shortfall all the way out to 2023. With this loss of a potential funding stream the Commission has indicated it may have to cut services such as invasive aquatic species inspections.
The last time there was an increase in fees was in 2005, but with the rising costs of fish hatchery operations, fish stocking costs and big game surveys, the financial situation is increasingly untenable.
License fees provide 60 percent of the overall $151 million Colorado Parks and Wildlife budget and is an important part of program stability and growth.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman, Lauren Truitt, had this to say about the crisis in funding:
“With the bill not going through, the budget shortfall does not go away. We need to make sure we are looking at all our programs and making sure we are fiscally responsible for the next year while planning for a sustainable future.”
It is important to note that no taxpayers money is funneled towards Colorado Parks and Wildlife so permit and licence fees are their biggest revenue stream for conservation and management.
The fear moving forward is that without appropriate funding there could be a significant impact with the gating of some leased land due to the lack of maintenance, closing of fish hatcheries, and the cutting of other important wildlife management programs.