Friday, June 20, 2014
The advisory council tasked with considering changes to Montana's hunting and fishing licenses and fees will meet in Helena, Wednesday, June 25 to review recent public comments on its recommendations.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks recently wrapped up a series of nine public meetings across the state where the Fish & Wildlife Licensing and Funding Advisory Council's recommendations were reviewed and discussed.
The follow-up meeting will be held, Wednesday from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at Montana WILD, at 2668 Broadwater Ave, next to Spring Meadow Lake State Park off Highway 12 West.
The council spent about eight months examining FWP's current license system and funding cycle for fish and wildlife management. That work resulted in a series of recommendations being delivered in April to FWP Director Jeff Hagener. Those recommendations could provide an additional $5.75 million a year to stave off deep budget cuts to fish and wildlife management programs.
The council's 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.
Wednesday's meeting will focus on assessing whether to suggest any changes based on public comment on the recommendations made to FWP. The council also will review a bill draft based on its recommendations that will be presented to the Montana Legislature's Environmental Quality Council in July.
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 Gov. 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.