Archive for Sunday, February 11, 2001

Agency hunting for more money

Plan would increase costs of state licenses

February 11, 2001


— Secretary of Wildlife and Parks Steve Williams last week asked lawmakers for increases in hunting and fishing licenses and other permits, saying the agency needed the funding to continue popular outdoors programs.

Under Williams' recommendation to Senate budget writers, hunting and fishing licenses would increase from $15.50 each to $17.50 each.

The proposal would establish new fee ranges that the Wildlife and Parks Commission would use in setting specific fees.

Currently, most licenses and fees are at the maximum allowed from ranges that were last set in 1989, Williams said.

In fact, he said, there hasn't been an increase in wildlife and boating fees since 1995.

"Everyone's happy with our new programs," Williams said. "We want to continue doing that, but it just costs more to live now than it did in 1995."

Since 1995, the agency has established the "Walk-in Hunting Areas" program where revenue from hunting licenses is used to buy hunting leases. The state has about 700,000 acres in the program.

The agency also has repaired numerous dams at state fishing lakes, in addition to paying for the normal increases in maintenance and salaries. User fees pay about 88 percent of the agency's $45.8 million budget.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee took no action on Williams' proposal, but some members questioned some of the larger increases.

For example, the cost of a nonresidential, commercial hunting guide license would go from $50 to a proposed maximum of $1,000, while the cost for the same license for a Kansas guide would go from $50 to a maximum of $250.

Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said the proposal seemed aimed at trying to drive some out-of-state guides working in Kansas out of business.

Williams said some Kansas guides thought the out-of-state guides should be charged more in order to keep "fly-by-night" operators out of the state.

But Williams said he was open to suggestions about the fee proposals.

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