Increased License Fees Proposed
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is faced with a tough decision. The costs for maintaining important wildlife and fishing programs are beginning to outpace the revenue coming in to pay for the programs.
To keep up with the cost of providing fish and wildlife services, the DNR is proposing an increase in license fees that would be implemented in 2002. Resident hunting, fishing and trapping license fees were last raised in 1988.
"Over the decades, these programs have brought deer and turkey back to Indiana, stocked millions of fish in Hoosier waters, improved water quality and protected critical wildlife habitat," said Larry D. Macklin, DNR director. "They are programs important to all Hoosiers -- but especially to Indiana's hunters and anglers."
License fees are the primary source for DNR programs such as:
- Enforcement of wildlife, fishing and environmental laws
- More than 300 public access sites (boat ramps) and 18 public fishing areas.
- Stocking of 20 million fish into public waters each year.
- Wildlife habitat development on more than 76,000 acres of private land across the state.
In addition to other increases, DNR officials will propose raising the cost of annual hunting and fishing licenses by $5.50, which will make Indiana license fees similar to other Midwestern states. Resident hunting, fishing and trapping license fees have been at current rates for 14 years. Non-resident fees were increased by legislation approved two years ago.
"The proposed increase will be less than the cost of a typical night at the movies for two adults," Macklin said. "Even with increases, Indiana's licenses still will cost less than the averages for those licenses in the surrounding eight states."
Macklin asked the DNR's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee, a citizen advisory group, for their support and advice on the fee increase proposal at the group's quarterly meeting last Saturday. The group of conservation organizations supported the need for a license fee increase and urged DNR officials to explain the need to outdoor enthusiasts.
"I was very pleased to have the opportunity to meet with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee," Macklin said. "I appreciate their input and ongoing support of our efforts."
This past legislative session, legislation was approved to give the Natural Resources Commission the authority to raise fees for certain hunting and fishing licenses.
Before any final action is taken, there will be at least two public meetings to discuss the proposed increase. Both the Water and Resource Regulation Advisory Council and the Natural Resource Commission will consider DNR's proposal.
For a complete listing of proposed license fees and information on surrounding states' fees, go to: www.IN.gov/dnr/fishwild/licfeeinfo.htm