Time to give Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission the responsibility they should have had in the first place

March 27, 2017

By Bob Cox

Some opinions, comments and links relating to what is happening in this great nation and, in particular, in Western Colorado.

As a caucus member of the Colorado Sportsmen’s Roundtable, I sat through an afternoon of information sharing at our session in Glenwood Springs last Saturday.

Once again, I have to qualify what I am about to say and explain what may look like a switch in position on my part because I was so adamantly opposed to the merger of the Colorado State Parks and the Division of Wildlife. I fully understood why that merger was deemed necessary, but that did not make me like it any better. I know there is still some confusion, but one thing that is important is that, in spite of the merger, the funding for parks and wildlife is separate – they do not work under a combined budget.

What they do work under is what is called an enterprise agency. In other words, they exist on funding from users. The problem is that Colorado Parks and Wildlife, as it is now known, does not under the current system have the ability to set fees. That has, and could continue to be a problem because, as it stands now, when you pay for your hunting licenses and parks passes the money is then allocated through the budget process by legislation, as are the fees for those licenses and passes.

In the past, the representatives from the agencies would go before the legislature asking for license fee increases and the legislators, as they often do, have visions of being beat over the head with a ballot box so they are reluctant to vote for the increase. That has created a problem because, rather than increase fees a little each year the agency now finds itself in a crunch where more services are being demanded with less revenue because there has not been an increase in license fees since 2005 and in parks passes since 2010. Meanwhile, spending power has decreased by an estimated 22 percent. Now the sportsmen and women of this state are faced with large increases all at one time.

We need to give the CPW commissioners the power to raise fees in a very regulated manner and take the politics out as much as possible. Either today, or in the next few days a bill, now called the CPW Financial Sustainability Bill, will be introduced into the House. This bill, in a nutshell, gives the Commission limited authority to set parks, hunting, fishing and aquatic nuisance sticker fees under the following guidelines:

Individual park fees would be capped at no more than 50 percent.

Application fees would be capped at $20 and hunting and fishing licenses capped at no more than 50 percent increase.

Senior fishing licenses would be set at 1/2 the price of resident prices.

ANS stickers fees will also be capped.

And most important is that the bill will allow future fee changes (under the caps) to be based on the Consumer Price Index. This is the guideline used for several years for non-resident fees and it has worked relatively well.

I believe that it is important that us hunters, anglers general outdoors enthusiasts support this bill, and there are a few people that need to know now that we support it:

First of all, let Marc Catlin know how we feel. He probably assumes he knows, but give him some support so he can tell his new friends in the House.

The bill will begin its travels in the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee. Jeni James Arndt (D) Dist. 53 is the chair of that committee – send her an email – let her know. jeni.arndt.house@state.co.us.

The vice chair is Diane Mitsch Bush (D) Dist. 26. She needs to know too:

diane.mitschbush.house@state.co.us

The Minority Caucus chair is Yeulin Willett (R) Delta and Mesa Counties. Willett needs to be able to stand up for the minority and tell them how involved the sportsmen are in this process. yeulin.willett.house@state.co.us.

I happen to like Bob Broscheid, who is the Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. I think he has been up front and honest with us, and that he has a very difficult position, but one that he is very qualified. He has certainly been hampered by the merger and by other things that seem to have taken center stage, but this financial sustainability is important and we need to get it right. For my part, I think this is the right bill. I think it has been too long coming, but must get passed now. Otherwise, we will only dig a deeper hole. Broscheid said something Saturday that scares my hunting boots off. He said, “If we don’t pay attention now, the sportsmen and women of this state risk becoming inconsequential.”

This bill may not be perfect and it may seem that we are putting too much trust in the members of the CPW Commission, but when it comes down to it, those commissioners probably understand the plight of those of us who think like I do much more than the typical politician.

If you have an uncontrolled desire to contact all of the House Ag Committee, just go to the Colorado House website. There you can find the necessary information to call or email each and every one of them.

Another good source of information is Doug Vilsack, the DNR Legislative Liaison: (720)456-8596 or douglas.vilsack@state.co.us 

Remember, I only send out these missives via email to those who have asked for them. I do not share your email addresses with anyone and I use the Reagan email precisely because they don’t share or sell the addresses either. If you are getting this because someone forwarded it to you and you don’t want it, tell him or her not to forward any more. On the other hand, if you received a copy and would like to see more of my ranting, simply drop me a line at coxnotes@Reagan.com I will put you on my exclusive, but growing list.

 

Bob

 

© Robert R. Cox 2017

 

 

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