Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) will host a public meeting on Monday, May 19 at 7pm at the Montana FWP Headquarters in Kalispell to discuss recent recommendations from an advisory council tasked with adjusting Montana's hunting and fishing licenses and fees.
The Licensing and Funding Advisory Council (LFAC) spent the past eight months examining FWP's current license system and funding cycle for fish and wildlife management. That work resulted in recent recommendations to FWP Director Jeff Hagener that would provide an additional $6.25 million a year to stave off deep budget cuts to fish and wildlife management programs.
The recommendations are aimed at a simplified licensing system; standardized license discounts for youth, seniors, and disabled hunters; a revamped base price structure and other adjustments to provide a fair and stable source of revenue for the state's fish and wildlife conservation efforts.
Statewide public meetings are set for May 1-28 and will each begin at 7 p.m. The evenings will focus on explaining the LFAC recommendations and getting feedback to help direct FWP's funding proposal for the 2015 Legislature. The complete statewide meeting schedule is as follows:
• May 1 Missoula DoubleTree Hotel; 100 Madison
• May 5 Butte Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives; 17 W. Quartz St.
• May 6 Glasgow Cottonwood Inn; 45 1st Ave. NE
• May 13 Bozeman FWP Region 3 HQ; 1400 S. 19th Ave.
• May 15 Great Falls FWP Region 4 HQ; 4600 Giant Springs Road
• May 19 Kalispell FWP Region 1 HQ; 490 N. Meridian Road
• May 20 Helena Montana Wild Center; 2668 Broadwater Ave.
• May 27 Miles City FWP Region 7 HQ; 352 I-94 Business Loop
• May 28 Billings FWP Region 5 HQ; 2300 Lake Elmo Dr.
The council's recommendations come at a critical time as FWP nears the end of a 10- year cycle since the last increase in resident hunting and fishing license fees. Montana's last general resident hunting and fishing license fee increase approved by the Montana Legislature came in 2005 and in 2003 for nonresidents. FWP fish and wildlife management programs are primarily funded via the sale of fishing and hunting licenses.
The call for the funding and license review came from both the 2013 Montana Legislature and Governor Steve Bullock. The Legislature passed House Bill 609, which requires the Montana Legislature’s Environmental Quality Council to conduct a study of hunting and fishing license statutes and fees, while Gov. Bullock requested that FWP begin a public effort to create FWP's budget for consideration by the 2015 Legislature.
The council's recommendations are available via FWP's website at fwp.mt.gov; click "Licensing and Funding Advisory Council".