The director of the Department of Natural Resources says he’ll likely seek higher hunting fees for Iowans and a park user fee next year to deal with state budget cuts. D-N-R director Jeff Vonk says there’s a half-a-million dollar hole this year in the budget for state parks. He says they’ve had to put off hiring extra people that do the mowing and cleaning of restrooms this year.Vonk says installing a park user fee would help fix the situation, and key legislators are already discussing it. Almost a decade ago, the legislature instituted a park user fee, only to repeal it the following year after widespread complaints. Vonk says he doesn’t know about what it will take politically to get the fee passed.The 2001 Iowa Legislature voted to increase hunting license fees for out-of-staters, not Iowans, but Vonk is entertaining the idea of asking the 2002 Legislature to hike the fees for Iowa hunters. Vonk says not a single Iowa sportsman’s group opposed raising hunting fees. The fees go into a trust fund, and the money’s used for things like restoring wetlands and buying more land for hunting areas. Vonk made his comments during taping of I-P-T-V’s “Iowa Press,” which airs Sunday.
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