A recent meeting was held between the Indiana Division of Wildlife and a working group of representatives from state and national Conservation organizations. The Fee & Licensure Working Group was created by Indiana General Assembly in SB186. Initially, Representatives Randy Frye (District 67) and Tim Wesco (District 21) tried to remove authority of the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to set DNR fees through a floor amendment. Thanks to a quick advocacy on part of Conservation organizations, including IN BHA Chapter, the NRC’s authority remains intact.
Through SB186, the General Assembly directed the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife to call together a working group consisting of representatives from fishing, hunting, trapping, and conservation organizations including license holders to discuss and make recommendations on the following topics:
- funding sources and sustainable funding levels for the division
- the creation of or increases in license and permit fees for the division, including fees for nonlicense holders who use division services or properties
- private and public lands access; and
- investment and management costs
Board Member Scott Salmon is representing the IN Chapter in the Working Group. “The biggest financial challenge is that DFW faces now is the lack of stateside match dollars to leverage Federal Wildlife Restoration grants”
Salmon shared the following statistics from DFW about how many Hoosiers purchase licenses, and what types of licenses are most frequently purchased:
Participation Stats from DFW
- 8% of the Indiana Population buys a hunting license
- 2% of the Indiana Population buys a fishing license
- 30% of Total License Sales are Fishing Licenses
- 28% of Total License Sales are Deer Bundle Licenses
- 9% of Total License Sales are Hunt/Fish Combo Licenses
- 7% of Total License Sales are Deer Firearms (i.e. one buck tag)
- Abbott and Manning in the General Assembly are revising Boat License fees, potentially doubling the LARE budget from $2.5 to $5 Million a year.
The Working Group will continue to meet through the autumn of 2022 and will identify viable funding methods to assist Indiana DNR as the state moves forward in managing public lands and spaces.