Monday, March 25, 2019

10 Major Angler, Hunter & Outdoor Groups Support House Bill 808 Giving Fish & Boat Commission Authority To Adopt Its Own Fees

Nine major angler, hunter and outdoor groups wrote members of the House and Senate March 25 to express their support for House Bill 808 (Mehaffie-R-Dauphin) authorizing the Fish and Boat Commission to set its own fees for 3 years (sponsor summary).
The groups include: American Woodcock Society, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, Quality Deer Management Association, Ruffed Grouse Society, Trout Unlimited, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and United Bowhunters of Pennsylvania.
The House Game and Fisheries Committee is scheduled to meet on March 26 to consider House Bill 808.
The text of the letter follows--
Dear Senators and Representatives,
The undersigned organizations, representing tens of thousands of hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts across Pennsylvania, strongly support H.B. 808, which would grant the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) the authority to set license and permit fees as needed. This will better serve the sportsmen and outdoor recreation communities that depend on its services.
The PFBC is an independent state agency primarily funded by fishing license fees and boat registrations, and its mission is to “protect, enhance, and conserve” our Commonwealth’s 86,000 miles of rivers and streams and nearly 4,000 lakes.
To fulfill this mission, the agency provides law enforcement and safety services, fish stocking, habitat restoration, and public access benefits to millions of citizens annually.
The PFBC does all of this without receiving revenue from the General Fund, and instead, the agency depends on user fees that have not been adjusted in almost 15 years.
Currently, the PFBC must rely on legislation for each user fee increase, this process has led to sudden and significant fee increases, resulting in declines in license and permit sales. The current delay has caused staff cuts, postponed critical maintenance, and stretched safety services thin.
H.B. 808 upholds the General Assembly’s oversight on proposed fee increases and provides the opportunity for robust public comment. The Senate and House Fish and Game Committees will maintain veto power over fee adjustments.
The bill also includes a 3-year sunset provision and will expire July 15th, 2022, without reauthorization. If granted this authority, the PFBC has committed to only carrying out incremental increases that will support the agency’s budget while holding down costs for anglers and boaters.
In addition to its other services, the PFBC plays a critical role in the conservation of our waterways. The agency assists with pollution enforcement, conducts conservation science, and restores fish and wildlife habitat.
The Coldwater Heritage Partnership and the Unassessed Waters Initiative, collaborations with Trout Unlimited and other partners, are two notably successful programs that are restoring our best trout waters across the state.
PFBC provides the basic services and infrastructure that powers our state’s $26.9 billion dollar outdoor recreation economy and that sportsmen and women depend on. A recent economic analysis by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership found there are nearly 1.3 million anglers and 780,000 hunters across the state.
In 2016, sportsmen and women spent $1.3 billion dollars in pursuit of their hunting and fishing passions. These activities supported over 20,000 jobs, which paid nearly $800 million in salaries and wages and generated over $300 million in local, state, and federal tax revenue.
The time has come to grant the PFBC the authority to establish its own fees, allowing this important agency to operate with a predictable budget and capacity. We urge you to work alongside your colleagues to pass H.B. 808 to allow the PFBC to better serve the outdoor recreation and sportsmen communities.
The Committee meeting will be held in Room 205 of the Ryan Building starting at 9:30.   Click Here to watch the meeting online.
Rep. Keith Gillespie (R-York) serves as Majority Chair of the House Game and Fisheries Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-705-7167 or send email to:  Rep. William Kortz (D-Allegheny) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-780-4783 or send email to:

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