Date: 2/13/20 6:27 pm
From: plm108 <plm108...>
Subject: Re: ArkTimes blog: https://arktimes.com/arkansas-blog/2020/02/13/game-and-fish-laments-decline-in-hunting-fishing
Perhaps it's time for us to reconsider the positive impact our "membership" could have on saving these public lands for conservation purposes. What about something like a Wildlife Conservation Stamp (say for $5 per day or $20 per year or $100 lifetime PER VEHICLE) to support and enter any state wma when open. Hunters pay significantly more than this annually. Our impact on the land is quite minor, particularly because we normally do not trash the environment with beer cans, plastic bottles or cigarette butts or break into off-limits areas. (Just sayin'.)I know this could be a financial challenge for some of us ... but the bigger problem to consider is what becomes of the existing land if AGFC cannot balance their budget due to lack of external resources. I seriously doubt the state legislature would step up to cover these costs. It also gives us a VOICE in conservation decisions, which in my opinion is the most important aspect when dealing with decision makers.It would require a different approach -- with someone leading the PR side of it to explain to low impact users why it would be a benefit vs a burden to pay this fee but I think it can be done. Anyway, it is something to consider. The facts laid out clearly in this article warrant serious reflection. We have been blessed with free admission over our lifetime but perhaps it's time for us to consider the impact on these lands (and the birds/wildlife we love) if we do not pay a fair share. Patty McLean, Conway ARSent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
-------- Original message --------From: Barry Haas <bhaas...> Date: 2/13/20 5:47 PM (GMT-06:00) To: <ARBIRD-L...> Subject: ArkTimes blog: https://nam03.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Farktimes.com%2Farkansas-blog%2F2020%2F02%2F13%2Fgame-and-fish-laments-decline-in-hunting-fishing&amp;data=02%7C01%<7Carbird-l...>%7C451a966729744d61234708d7b0f54eb7%7C79c742c4e61c4fa5be89a3cb566a80d1%7C0%7C0%7C637172439946344140&amp;sdata=YNkKUcxf1Pj%2Bo5k3074ddkJuW2nHHCNQwxUkUa0DsV0%3D&amp;reserved=0 The post below is on the Arkansas Times blog this afternoon.  It is serious food for thought for every Arkansas conservationist.  The numbers at the bottom are my own addition to the blog post.Writer Leslie Newell Peacock is a long time conservationist (I think she will accept that title) and birder (I know she will accept that one), as well as a long time staff member at the Arkansas Times.Barry HaasLittle RockGame and Fish laments decline in hunting, fishingBy Leslie Newell PeacockFebruary 13, 2020The state Game and Fish Commission today put out a “special news release” expressing its concern over the decline in fishing and hunting licenses, a situation it said “has Commissioners and staff at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission concerned that the funding for natural resource management is in jeopardy.”The news release said fishing license sales had declined in the last five years from 381,308 to 312,758 (residents) and from 138,508 to 119,747 (nonresidents). Resident hunting licenses declined from 258,356 in FY 2014 to 220,587 in FY 2019. Nonresident licenses were up slightly (20,587 to 21,855, large game; 40,784 to 47,633, small game).Game and Fish relies not just on licenses but on taxes on gear sold to hunters and fishermen to support its wildlife management.  From the news release: “The decline has much more far-reaching effects than dollars lost through license sales. The current North American model of wildlife management depends upon hunters and anglers to provide the backbone for conservation of game and non-game species alike. In addition to license fees, hunters and anglers purchase certain hunting and fishing equipment which is taxed at the manufacturer level. These taxes are then pooled together and distributed to state fish and wildlife agencies to carry out needed conservation work. Not only does a decrease in hunting and fishing mean decreased license funds, it means less tax funds because of decreased spending on hunting and fishing equipment. Additionally, the formula used by the USFWS to distribute those tax funds is based partially on the number of licensed hunters and anglers participating in each state.”This is not news. Sales of fishing and hunting licenses have been on the decline for decades. The news release notes a study by the  the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that hunting participation peaked in the 1980s. Arkansas’s response to declining license revenues was Amendment 75, approved by voters in 1996, which imposed a 1/8 cent conservation tax in 1997. To persuade voters to support the tax, Game and Fish promised to create “nature centers” in Little Rock, Jonesboro, Pine Bluff and Fort Smith.But if voters thought that what they would get from supporting the tax — nature centers that addressed issues of clean water, clean air, environmental degradation, endangered species, nature centers celebrating a state’s non-consumptive fauna, like the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail or kayaking trails, places to learn about such things as native plants and butterflies — they were sorely disappointed. That didn’t happen, because Game and Fish can’t get beyond aquariums and stuffed deer and fishing lures. To the agency, conservation is about preserving land for ducks and deer and fish.The news release also notes the impact of climate change — though it doesn’t call it that — on wildlife preserves:    “The decrease in revenue comes at a time when the AGFC is facing monumental challenges. The greentree reservoirs that create wintering habitat for millions of migrating ducks are in severe stress from decades of floods. Shifting trends in rain and flooding up and down the White, Black, Arkansas and Mississippi rivers also is causing areas to be submerged throughout spring and summer, further damaging the trees along these bottomland hardwood stands. Many dams and water-control structures regulating AGFC-owned fishing areas also are reaching the end of their initial life expectancy and need renovations or replacement.”Is it not inconceivable that a broader view of nature, one that would have attracted, for example, fee-paying people to pristine nature trails and programs on its conservation lands, could have had helped Game and Fish. Perhaps not enough, but with hunters and fishermen on the decline, it seems the agency should recognize that it serves all Arkansans, including its sportsmen.Fishing license sales:FY2014 381,308 (residents)FY2019 312,758 (residents)    68,550 (18.0% decrease)Hunting license sales:FY2014 258,356 (residents)FY2019 220,587 (residents)   37,769 (14.6% decrease)
 
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