UPSA REVIEW OF PROPOSED LICENSE INCREASE
After a careful review of the proposed license increases UPSA offers the
following comments and considerations :
- The fishing license proposal has merit. Moving to a single fishing license is long over due. Since 1980 or so having Salmonoid fishermen (trout and salmon) pay more than those who fish other species has been unfair in that trout and salmon were only two of several species that were being reared and planted to supplement natural populations. Walleye, hybrid bluegill, muskies, and others were being produced in hatcheries. This change will actually reduce the cost of fishing while increasing the income of the fish division. In addition it will reduce the problems for the law division in enforcement.
- The base resident license also has some merit, however, it does not go far enough in that many user groups are exempt from paying to utilize resources. Bikers, hikers, bird and wildlife viewers, non-game fanciers (wolf), equestrians, cross country skiers, gatherers (mushrooms, berries, nuts etc.) do not need base license even though department money is used to build and maintain trails and facilities, and pay for the land and taxes to support these activities.
- While no increases in license fees have been implemented for several years that in itself is not reason enough for the proposals nor should a comparison of Michigan fees to neighboring states be a valid consideration because we are not discussing hunting or fishing in those states. We would have to compare the results of populations of fish and wild life in those states and the relative experience of a hunt or fishing experience to make a realistic judgment.
- The introduction of the base license and the subsequent removal the small game and waterfowl license will generate more federal revenue as those licenses have decreased greatly in recent years.
- Bear license should not be increased above any other big game such as deer as the management procedures are no greater for bear.
- Increasing the ORV license from $16.25 to $25.25 is a bit of overreach and the addition of a $10.00 trail permit is real overkill. We are presently creating only 30 miles of new trail per year and acquisition and maintenance do not require these increases. There are as many Off Road Vehicles that never see use on a state trails as those that do. ORV use on land other that state trails should not require a trail permit even if one was justifiable.
OUTCOMES OF GENERATING MORE REVENUE:
Perhaps more important than the actual increases will be the use of this money. We should see transparency in actual budgeting .Where the money is spent and how it is spent should be open to all users.
- Almost one quarter of the new money is intended for law enforcement. While enforcement is important, it is far more important to have more boots on the ground to improve game and fish populations. Biologists and foresters should be a greater priority for future funding. Less than 3 million is earmarked for wildlife. The fish division is scheduled to receive over 5 million in increases with just one fifth of that for field work. Marketing and outreach will receive almost 2.5 million. This puts the cart before the horse. If we have good fishing and hunting it will market itself.
- Foresters are vital to the natural production of habitat. Fire suppression is also important. As the present fire officers retire (and most are close) perhaps a policy to hire forestry technicians for those positions and cross-training would be advisable to enable better utilization and outcomes.
- The budget proposes money for youth programs in Flint, Detroit etc. That money should not be used for inner city programs but be transferred to areas in the field where youth could perform tasks that would benefit both the youth and our resources.
UPSA believes that before legislation is passed that input and negotiation with user groups is required.