DES MOINES - A proposal to raise hunting, fishing and trapping fees has been postponed due to the current economic conditions.
"The proposal to raise fees was very difficult for us and the decision now to postpone the request is equally as hard. Because of the continued severity of the economic downturn, we felt that now was not a good time to be raising fees," said DNR Director Richard Leopold.
Leopold said the decision to postpone the license fee proposal was done after consulting with the Governor's office about the timing of the request during the economic recession.
License fees go directly into the Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund. The Iowa Constitution only allows those funds to be used for fish and wildlife programs.
The last increase for resident hunting and fishing licenses occurred seven years ago. Inflation during that time has sharply reduced the amount of funding available for fish and wildlife programs.
"Because adjustments to the license fees are made so infrequently, the proposal was under consideration prior to the economic downturn. We knew already two years ago that we would need to make a rate adjustment either this year or next, but had no idea at the time that the economy would experience such a profound downturn," Leopold said.
Leopold acknowledged that many key conservation groups as well as some Legislators recognized the need for additional funding and have supported the proposal.
"We, like everyone else, are hoping that the economic situation will improve soon, but for now, we will be tightening our belts along with the rest of Iowa's citizens," Leopold said.
On the plus side, Leopold said Gov. Chet Culver is proposing $6 million in supplemental funding in his budget for weather-related damages suffered last year by the department.
"This funding would help us weather some of the financial stresses caused by the record floods and tornados of last summer," Leopold said.
Leopold said adjusting license fees will be re-visited when the state's economic picture improves.
A series of public meetings to discuss the Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund and proposed license increase in February and early March will also be postponed. Leopold said the DNR is looking at holding similar meetings next summer.
"We look forward to resuming this discussion with hunters, anglers and trappers. The Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund belongs to them and we very much value their input on the future of these programs," said Leopold.
For more information, contact Kevin Baskins at 515-281-8395.