FWP to Host Public Meeting on Proposed License Changes

By Beacon Staff

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is hosting a public meeting in Kalispell to review and discuss recent recommendations from an advisory council tasked with adjusting Montana’s hunting and fishing licenses and fees. The meeting is at 7 p.m. on May 18 at FWP’s regional headquarters at 490 N. Meridian Road.

The Fish and Wildlife Licensing and Funding Advisory Council spent the past eight months examining FWP’s current license system and funding cycle for fish and wildlife management. That work resulted in recent recommendations to FWP Director Jeff Hagener that would provide an additional $5.75 million a year to stave off deep budget cuts to fish and wildlife management programs.

The recommendations are aimed at a simplified licensing system; standardized license discounts for youth, seniors, and disabled hunters; a revamped base price structure and other adjustments to provide a fair and stable source of revenue for the state’s fish and wildlife conservation efforts.

The May 19 event will focus on explaining the LFAC recommendations and getting feedback to help direct FWP’s funding proposal for the 2015 Legislature.

The council’s recommendations come at a critical time as FWP nears the end of a 10- year cycle since the last increase in resident hunting and fishing license fees. Montana’s last general resident hunting and fishing license fee increase approved by the Montana Legislature came in 2005 and in 2003 for nonresidents. FWP’s fish and wildlife management programs are primarily funded via the sale of fishing and hunting licenses.

The call for the funding and license review came from both the 2013 Montana Legislature and Gov. Steve Bullock. The Legislature passed House Bill 609, which requires the Montana Legislature’s Environmental Quality Council to conduct a study of hunting and fishing license statutes and fees, while Gov. Bullock requested that FWP begin a public effort to create FWP’s budget for consideration by the 2015 Legislature.