Outdoors

License fee increases part of plan to support fish, wildlife progams

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is reviewing a number of fishing license fee increases. If approved, the increases would generate $12 million a year for the department.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is reviewing a number of fishing license fee increases. If approved, the increases would generate $12 million a year for the department. Staff file, 2011

South Sound residents will have the chance this week to comment on proposed license fee increases to expand conservation programs and provide more fishing and hunting opportunities. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is holding four meetings to gather input on the proposals.

The workshops are part of “Washington’s Wild Future: A Partnership for Fish and Wildlife,” the agency’s effort to strengthen the department’s relationships with communities, increase support for conservation and outdoor recreation, and help ensure its programs and services meet the public’s needs, according to a news release.

The proposals, to be submitted to the governor and Legislature in September, would enable the department to continue to meet its legal responsibilities and to respond to public input.

“We heard many good ideas last fall, and almost all of them called for more outdoor opportunities and expanded conservation efforts,” department Director Jim Unsworth said in a prepared statement. “The Wild Future package reflects the input we received and identifies both our spending priorities and how we could pay for them. The workshops offer a great opportunity for Washingtonians to help us refine these strategies.”

The workshops will include presentations from one of the department’s regional directors, describing proposals to maintain and improve fish, habitat and wildlife management in Washington, according to the agency. Participants also will have the opportunity to talk with representatives of the Fish, Wildlife, Enforcement, Licensing and Habitat programs.

The Wild Future package reflects the input we received and identifies both our spending priorities and how we could pay for them.

Jim Unsworth, director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife

Among the proposals are changes in fishing license fees that would generate about $12 million a year, including:

▪ A 17.2 percent increase in a resident combination fishing license, from an out-the-door cost (including dealer and transaction fees) of $55.35 to $64.92. A freshwater license would rise to $34.12, while a saltwater license would be $33.57.

▪ Anglers would have to pay for a catch record card for specific species. Anglers would have to pay $17 for a salmon or steelhead card, and $11.50 for a sturgeon or Puget Sound halibut card.

▪ Fishermen would qualify for a senior license at age 65, rather than 70. The cost of a senior combination license would drop to $24.50.

▪ Young anglers would not need a license until age 16, rather than the current requirement at age 15.

▪ The department would be allowed to raise license fees every two years to account for inflation.

The agency also is proposing a 10 percent increase in resident hunting license fees, pushing the cost of a big-game license to $104.85. The cost for a state migratory bird permit would rise from $17 to $28, matching the cost of a federal duck stamp.

Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640

Get involved

Learn more: Documents describing the draft spending and revenue proposals are available at wdfw.wa.gov/wildfuture. You also can comment online.

Workshops: Each session will take run from 6-8 p.m.

Monday: Water Resources Education Center, 4600 S.E. Columbia Way, Vancouver.

Tuesday: Chelan County Public Utility District Auditorium, 327 N. Wenatchee Ave, Wenatchee.

Wednesday: WDFW Mill Creek Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd, Mill Creek.

Thursday: Willapa Harbor Community Center, 916 W. First St., South Bend.

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