OP/ED for Reel News
By Sen. Kirk Pearson

Please send your comments directly to me at Kirk.Pearson@leg.wa.gov or by mail to my Olympia office at PO Box 40439, Olympia, WA 98504. You can find more details about the proposal on my website, www.SenatorKirkPearson.com.

As chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee, I get a first look at new plans and budgets from the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. With each new budget year, there are usually many new ideas for how to spend the state’s money on projects or programs that they believe will help us maintain the fishing and hunting opportunities that make Washington such a great state for hunters and fishermen.

This year the Department of Fish and Wildlife is proposing new increases to our fishing and hunting license fees.

According to the Department, these costs are expected to help increase production at hatcheries, such as 700,000 coho at Marblemount and Wallace hatcheries, as well as other projects that seek to enhance Washington’s natural resources and maintain the ongoing operations of the department. Many of these are ideas that could be beneficial. However, we need to count the cost before we start writing the checks.

The costs are significant. Overall, recreational and commercial fishing license fees will increase by an average of 30 percent. Recreational licenses for saltwater salmon, freshwater trout, and shellfish license would increase from $55 to $75. Columbia and Snake River salmon and steelhead licenses will go from $38 to more than $64. Saltwater salmon and sturgeon licenses from $30 to $55. An average angler could see fee costs increase by double or triple.
Hunters also will pay for the new spending with fees that will increase by 10 percent on average. A migratory bird permit will go from $15 to $25. A deer, elk, bear and cougar big game hunting license will increase from $85 to $93.

All these increased fee amounts are just for residents. For non-residents, the price increases are much higher, possibly presenting problems to our tourism industry.

This session I will be holding a public hearing on the department’s proposal for increased license fees. Knowing that most of our hunters and fishermen cannot make the trip to Olympia to testify, I would like to know your opinions on the merits of this proposal.

Sen. Kirk Pearson is the chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee and represents the 39th Legislative District. He resides in Monroe.

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