Iowans will not be paying more to obtain a hunting or fishing license next year. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has scrapped the idea of raising those fees by six dollars.
The plan would have raised 6 to 7 million dollars a year for the Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund. D.N.R. director Rich Leopold says it was a tough decision, but he agreed to drop the proposal after talking with Governor Chet Culver.
"Even within my department, there’s going to be staffers that are not happy…we’ve been doing a lot of work out in the field talking about how necessary this is because the fund is not solvent," Leopold said. "But, between the governor and department staff, we thought that right now the best action would be to postpone."
Culver did not include the higher fees in his budget and said, in light of the economy, he did not expect the proposal to win legislative approval. Leopold says many anglers and hunters supported the plan, so the D.N.R. could bring it back next year.
"What we plan to do, this next summer, is meet with a lot our affected stakeholders and come up with another plan as to what we’re going to do into the future – whether we come back asking for increased fees next year or whether we talk about reducing the level of service and we certainly don’t want to do that," Leopold said.
Currently, Iowans pay $17.50 for an in-state hunting or fishing license. The D.N.R. uses those annual fees to cover habitat restoration for game birds, trout restocking for fishermen and poaching enforcement.
Leopold says a continued shortfall in the trust fund could mean fewer game wardens or less habitat restoration. He made his comments today on the Iowa Public Radio program, "The Exchange."