Showing posts with label lakes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lakes. Show all posts

July 25, 2020

Fishing License Sales Rise as SWA Rule Begins

Front page photo from the Wet Mountain Tribune, July 16, 2020.
I was talking with a game warden from one of the mountain counties three days ago during one my "wildlife transport" runs, and I asked her how the new requirement — that you must have a hunting or fishing license to use state wildlife areas — was working out for field officers like herself.

Right now, we are just trying to educate people, she said, adding that people would get in her face and yell about "I pay taxes!"

Which  goes to show how ignorant they are. You could pay $10,000 a year in state income tax, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife would get little if any of it. (But do buy lottery tickets, because some of that money goes to state parks.)

Click to enlarge (San Bernardino
Natonal Forest on Facebook)
Meanwhile, she said, virtually every campsite in her area, developed or not, was in use. Maybe it's time for people to try this creative approach, pioneered in California--see graphic at right.

1. Not all state wildlife areas (SWAs) are owned by the state.  See the lake in the photo above? It's owned by a Cañon City-based irrigation company. I know this because I used to be a shareholder and watered our trees and gardens with that water. But I could safely bet that 95-percent of visitors (iincuding locals) think it's "public land," whereas in fact CPW leases fishing rights, including boating-while-fishing, and does permit cmaping. There are other SWAs that also are leased, although many are owned outright.

Colorado’s SWAs are acquired with license dollars from hunters and anglers – and are managed with that funding today – primarily to restore, conserve, manage and enhance wildlife and wildlife habitat.

2. CPW gets virtually no state income tax money. That is actually a good thing, because then legislators cannot raid CPW's budget to pay for their more-favored projects. Click here for pie charts of Wildlife and Parks funding.

Notice that the wildlife side is 68-percent funded by license sales and 19-percent by federal grants. ("Severance tax" refers to taxes on mining, oil, etc. not personal taxes.)

3. The federal grants are tied to hunting/fishing license sales. I have heard people say this is Donald Trump's fault. No, it is Franklin Roosevelt's "fault," since the controlling Pittman-Roberton Act was passed in 1937. The act directs money from federal taxes on firearms and ammunition down to the states with these guidelines:
States must fulfill certain requirements to use the money apportioned to them. None of the money from their hunting license sales may be used by anyone other than the states' own fish and game departments. Plans for what to do with the money must be submitted to and approved by the Secretary of the Interior. Acceptable options include research, surveys, management of wildlife and/or habitat, and acquisition or lease of land. Once a plan has been approved, the state must pay the full cost and is later reimbursed for up to 75% of that cost through the funds generated by the Pittman–Robertson Act.The 25% of the cost that the state must pay generally comes from its hunting license sales.If, for whatever reason, any of the federal money does not get spent, after two years that money is then reallocated to the Migratory Bird Conservation Act.
Some people say that Pittman-Robertson should be extended to hiking books, backcountry skis, backpacking gear, etc. An interesting thought.
Sanchez Reservoir is near the town
of San Luis in the southern San Luis Valley

4. Why is this access issue coming up now? I  will just quote a recent CPW news release:
Across the state, CPW has seen increasing use of state wildlife areas inconsistent with their purpose. A good example is camping, including people taking up temporary residence in SWAs. We’ve also seen vehicular use on big game winter ranges, pressure from hikers, maintenance issues, trash, vandalism and other uses detrimental to wildlife and wildlife-related uses.
5. So why can't I buy a "hiking pass" or a "wildlife-watching pass? See #3. A "hiking pass" would not bring in any of the federal grant money that state wildlife management depends on. CPW tried something like that in the recent past, but got into a hassle with the federal government:
Several years ago, the General Assembly voted to require all users of SWAs to purchase a state Wildlife Habitat Stamp as a way to generate conservation funding.

It failed for a couple reasons. First, only hunters or anglers complied, for the most part. Those who only hike or watch wildlife or camp didn’t bother to buy the stamp.

Second, funding for SWAs actually fell because federal officials ruled the Habitat Stamp was classified as “program income” and it ended up decreasing our federal grant money by the same amount we were able to bring in.
6. Suprise, fishing license sales are rising! According to Colorado Public Radio. "Colorado Parks and Wildlife has issued nearly 90,000 more annual fishing licenses so far this year compared to the same period in 2019." They say a lot of that is people getting outdoors during the pandemic, but also mention the new regulation. Many of these anglers are new to the sport — or at least new to it in Colorado.