April 11, 2018
S.B. 18-143, the "Hunting, Fishing and Parks for Future Generations Act" bill passed the Colorado Senate unanimously and now has passed the 3 House Committees: House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee, House Finance Committee, and House Appropriations Committee. Final stop in the legislature is the House Floor. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Stephen Fenberg and Don Coram. The House co-sponsors are Representatives Jeni Arndt and Jim Wilson.
CWF and other stakeholders have worked hard on this bill. Here is the text of CWF's letter to the Committees that have heard the bill:
"Colorado Wildlife Federation (CWF) fully supports this important bill and we are gratified that it passed the Senate on a unanimous vote.
This bill is essential to resurrect Colorado Parks and Wildlife's finances. The bill centers upon fee increases in resident hunting and fishing licenses to address rising costs for managing wildlife and protecting habitat. It also includes fee adjustments to help maintain and improve state parks. This enterprise agency relies on user fees, not general tax dollars to fund its work.
The bill has resulted from more than 2.5 years of public meetings, and enjoys overwhelming sportsmen's support. It is essential for regaining fiscal footing of Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). The immediate needs are listed as goals and objectives to achieve by 2025 in the bill's Legislative declaration. For example, CPW must fund reduction in dam repair backlog and maintenance, and decrease the backlog in essential large capital construction and maintenance. Beyond the listed specific needs, CPW also must have the financial capacity to fund complicated issues such as particular wildlife diseases, including Chronic Wasting Disease in buck deer which is increasing in a few areas of Colorado.
Wildlife and fisheries in Colorado are treasured amenities by all Coloradoans. Increases in pricing to resident sportsmen in the aggregate will be less annually than the tank of gas for their outdoor excursions. The CPI is integral to the bill because it will help avoid future deficits, as income otherwise again will become outmatched by expense growth. SB 18-143 has been introduced 12 years after the last pricing increases for resident sportsmen. Sportsmen will pay the fees as set forth in this bill simply because we greatly value Colorado's wildlife and fisheries, and these increases are necessary now.
Therefore, we ask you please to support this bill."
The link to the text of the bill is below.
The bill would increase the cost of most resident hunting and fishing licenses by $8 in 2019 followed by CPI adjustments. For example, a resident elk license that costs $45 in 2018 would cost $53 in 2019. An annual fishing license in 2018 would increase to $33 in 2019.
CPW intends to accomplish the following 10 goals by 2025, as specified in the bill's Legislative Declaration:
-- Increase the number of hunters and anglers through investments in programs such as hunter education, Fishing is Fun, and Cameo Shooting and Education Complex.
--Expand access for hunters, anglers and outdoor recreationists by renewing existing high-priority leases and supporting additional public access programs on public and private lands.
--Identify and begin planning the development of Colorado's next state park.
--Reduce risks to life and property and sustain water-based recreation opportuities by reducing CPW\'s dam maintenance and repair backlog by 50 percent. [The maintenance and repair backlog is $44.76 million. CPW seeks to reduce this backlog by 50% for the 11 dams owned and operated by CPW that pose the highest risk to life and property and to establish a funding stream to continue maintenance of all CPW\'s 110 dams.]
--Increase the number of fish stocked in Colorado waters to above 90 million through hatchery modernization and renovations [and to renovate one of the state\'s 19 fish hatcheries. Many of these hatcheries are 70-100 years old.]
--Attract and retain high caliber employees to manage wildlife, park recreation and aquatic resources.
--Improve species distribution and abundance monitoring and disease prevention efforts through partnerships with private landowners -- and reduce the need to list additional state trust species under the federal Endangered Species Act.
--Increase and improve big-game populations through investments in habitat and conservation, including building more highway wildlife crossings to protect wildlife and motorists.
--Engage all outdoor recreationists, such as hikers, bikers, and wildllfe watchers, in the maintenance of state lands and facilities and the management of wildlife.
--Provide quality infrastructure at CPW properties by completing much needed construction and maintenance. [CPW seeks to reduce its known $26 million large capital construction and maintenance backlog by 50%.]
Link to the text of the bill: