MNTU and Minnesota’s largest fishing, hunting and outdoor groups urge State lawmakers to take action on DNR funding before it is too late

MNTU and a broad coalition of Minnesota’s largest fishing, hunting and outdoors groups is warning state lawmakers that inaction could harm fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation and jeopardize the state’s $5.5 Billion tourism industry.

In a letter to top leaders of both parties in the Minnesota House and Senate, the coalition of more than 40 groups urges the legislature to pass modest license fee increases as proposed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and restore historical funding for fish and wildlife management.

Under the proposed increases, a deer hunting license would rise from $30 to $34. An annual fishing license would rise $3, from $22 to $25. Several other licenses are affected.

“Even with the $3 bump, Minnesota’s fishing license is an incredible bargain for a years’ worth of quality fishing,” said a spokesman for the coalition, John Lenczewski, executive director of the nonprofit conservation group, Minnesota Trout Unlimited.  “That small increase costs less than a scoop of minnows or a bag of chips at the gas station,” he added.

Each year the Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (BOC) scrutinizes DNR expenditures from the Game & Fish Fund and reviews budget projections.  In August 2016, faced with a looming Fund deficit, the BOC requested the DNR develop a package of funding, including license fee increases for fishing, hunting, ice shelters and the like, to ensure the solvency of the Fund without a reduction in fish and wildlife management.  The DNR prepared the license fee increases and they were approved by Governor Dayton.

At the urging of groups of sportsmen and sportswomen, Minnesota Trout Unlimited and the Minnesota Conservation Federation, prepared a letter of support for license fee and revenue increases for fish and wildlife management.  Numerous organizations quickly signed on.  The letter is being sent to key legislators in the decision-making process.

The coalition urges their members and the general public to contact their state representative and senator, saying they support the proposed fee increases, and urge their legislators to return to the State’s longstanding practice of investing a small amount of the state tax generated by hunting and angling activity into the Game & Fish Fund.

The Legislature is expected to set spending targets in the next two weeks with agency budgets coming together quickly after the targets are set. Including license fee increases and additional general funds into the game and fish fund will allow the DNR to better manage the state’s natural resources, especially game and fish populations.

“This is the year to act,” said MCF executive director Gary Botzek. “Waiting until next year will cause delays in natural resources projects and programs,” he added.

“Minnesota’s natural resources are an incredible asset,” Lenczewski said. “Fishing and hunting are good right now, and people come from all over the country to enjoy it.  We cannot afford to jeopardize that asset by shorting the game and fish fund.”

View the coalition letter HERE

Find your legislators and their contacts using the “Find out who represents me” tool on the Minnesota Legislature webpage via this link:  https://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/faq/faqtoc?id=47