I attended last nightís Colorado Parks & Wildlife Northeast Region Sportsmenís Roundtable meeting. After two years of discussing the same subject at multiple meetings from Ft. Collins to Colorado Springs Iím exhausted. We all know license fees need to be increased to help secure more funding for the CPW to operate effectively moving forward. Admittedly Iím a homer and root for the hometown team every chance I get including the CPW, but that hometown favoritism started to fade away during last years ďFunding the FutureĒ meetings. The CPW said they wanted our opinions, but after attending both Denver and Ft. Collins meetings last year it felt otherwise. In jam packed rooms filled with tension hunters and anglers vented on funding issues we were frustrated with, and defensive CPW employees tried explaining what weíll lose if future funding isnít secured soon. What should have been a collaboration knowing we all share the same overall goals turned into more of an unproductive stand-off.
After House Bill 1321 died last year the CPW announced more meetings this fall to discuss the same topics. The first meeting I attended this fall was in Colorado Springs and the vibe was noticeably different. Humbled CPW representatives dropped the doom and gloom approach and they started communicating with us on an eye to eye level genuinely wanting our input. For the first time in a while I left a CPW meeting with a smile on my face. A few weeks later I attended a similar meeting in Ft. Collins where the vibe started off a little rocky, but quickly rebounded into a positive collaboration after Mark Leslie went off the cuff for a few minutes. Mark explained some of the difficulties the CPW faces now without proper funding and how grim itís looking in the future if we donít fix it. It wasnít coming from a place of doom and gloom or looking to get blind support from the people in the room. It was coming from the heart, and when youíre attempting to reach a room full of passionate hunters and fisherman thatís damn near the only approach that works. Again, I left that meeting with a smile on my face thinking weíre headed in the right direction.
Months go by without hearing a peep then out of the blue we get meeting notifications. True to form with these meetings the CPW gives little notice ahead of time and if you donít have an extremely flexible schedule good luck attending in person, but Jennifer Churchill is doing an amazing job broadcasting these meetings live on CPWís Facebook page. The first meeting took place in Pueblo and immediately following the meeting my phone started filling up with texts, imís, and emails. The main thing that was relayed to me was the frustration about the promised free youth fishing license now being proposed at 8 dollars. Iíll get more into the youth fishing license in a minute.
I walked into the meeting yesterday greeted by a bunch of familiar faces both for the CPW and fellow concerned sportsmen. Steve Hilde an elected delegate to the Sportsmenís round table opened the meeting with about the round table then passed the spotlight over to Northeast Region Manager for the CPW Mark Leslie for room wide introductions. Next up was CPWís head of policy and planning Katie Lanter to announce the Future Generations Act. The CPW wants to make sure future generations can enjoy hunting, fishing, and the rest of the outdoor activities weíre all so passionate about. In order to keep this blog semi-short Iím going to add some key points of the Future Generations Act below. Note: This bill hasnít been introduced yet, so this is all a draft and subject to change, but theyíre thinking the bill could be introduced as early as later this week or next week.
The Ten goals the CPW wants to Achieve by 2025 that would be a part of the bill:
-Growing the numbers of hunters and anglers in Colorado
-Expanding access for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation (In particular renewing some high priority leases and supporting addition public access programs on public and private lands)
-Identifying and begin planning the development of the next state park
-Addressing some of the concerns the CPW has with their dams.
-Increasing the number of fishing stocked. Modernizing and renovating some of the fish hatcheries.
-Continue to attract and retain high caliber employees for CPW
-Continue work on improving species distribution, abundance monitoring, and disease prevention efforts.
-Engage all outdoor recreationists in the maintenance of state lands, facilities, and management of wildlife
-Increase and improve big game populations through investments and habitat conservation which includes things like more wildlife crossings to protect motorists and wildlife.
-Continue providing quality infrastructure at CPW properties.
In order to achieve these goals which takes added funding some of the things the CPW is looking at:
-Increase license fee increase of 8 dollars to annual licenses then adjusting with inflation after that. Inflation is typically in the 2-3 percent a year.
-Single day license increase of 4 dollars
-Senior fishing license would go up to 8 dollars which would allow the CPW to collect on federal funding theyíre currenting not getting by offering free senior fishing licenses. Between the senior fishing license sales and the federal funds theyíre looking at 1.6 million per year.
-Youth fishing licenses ages 16-17 to be charged 8 dollars for the same reasons as the senior fishing license. A 70 percent price reduction compared to what 16-17 year old anglers are currently being charged.
-Application fees for limited license (hunting) up to 10 dollars a fee for residents and up to 20 for non-residents.
-Non-resident annual fishing to 95 dollars a year. 5 day fishing 30 dollars.
-Wildlife Council Surcharge from .75 cents to 1.50
-Raising the price of the waterfowl stamp to 10 dollars
-Offer discounted outreach licenses to target groups i.e.: Veterans, Youth anglers, etc..
-Raising park entrance fees, camping fees. Change the current statute so anytime they want to raise the entrance prices for the parks theyíll be limited to no more than 1 dollar in any year for daily fees and 10 per year on the annual fees.
-Streamlining a couple requirements things like having to affix park passes to vehicles.
-Carrying more inventory for sale at retail locations things like food or firewood.
-recoup costs for issuing replacement parks passes.