UPDATE: The Hunting, Fishing & Parks for Future Generations Act was approved in 2018. CLICK HERE to read Senate Bill 18-143.
Parks & Wildlife has identified ten goals to fulfill by 2025.
- Grow the number of hunters and anglers
- Expand public and private land access
- Increase big game populations
- Improve wildlife populations
- Increase the number of fish stocked
- Plan a new state park
- Maintain our dams
- Engage all outdoor recreationists in funding and conservation
- Recruit and retain qualified employees
- Maintain and improve parks and wildlife areas
(COLORADO) – A new bill to raise user fees to fund Colorado Parks and Wildlife just passed the state senate and is on its way to the Colorado House of Representatives.
The bill would address the organization’s ever-increasing deficit by increasing license fees and park entrance fees.
“It fixes a problem that Colorado Parks and Wildlife currently faces,” said Travis Duncan, a public information officer for CPW.
The organization relies primarily on user fees, not tax dollars, but Parks and Wildlife said entrance fees have not kept pace with inflation.
“That’s causing some budget shortfalls as we move forward and try to fix things and perpetuate the wildlife resources of the state,” Duncan continued.
Since 2009, CPW “Has cut or defunded 50 positions and reduced $40 million from its wildlife budget,” according to a release from Parks and Wildlife.
“If we don’t see a fee increase, and we haven’t seen one since 2005, you’re going to see a lot more opportunities go away,” said Brett Axton, an avid hunter and owner of Rocky Mountain Roosters Inc.
The proposed bill would increase most resident hunting and fishing licenses $8, increase certain non-resident licenses, and allow for the adjusting of park entrance fees to account for inflation.
“So that’s less than two cups of coffee at Starbucks,” continued Axton.
CPW expects annual budget shortfalls of $30 million for wildlife and $11 million annually for parks due to high demand on state resources, inflation and the inability to increase prices in the next seven years.
“As more people move here, we’re under more pressure from lack of funds to serve those people moving in. To make sure that people moving here have access to the parks, have access to the wildlife and habitats that we’ve come to think of as just being a part of living in this state,” Duncan said.
Now the bill, titled “The Hunting, Fishing & Parks for Future Generations Act,” was created after months of public meetings, which connected CPW with more than 4,500 people.
“I think that’s why the bill passed it’s third reading in the senate,” said Duncan.
CPW reports the majority of those in attendance understood and supported the bill. Additionally outdoorsmen and organizations have expressed support to News 5. Others, however, are not in favor of the changes and feel CPW should be more efficient in their current spending.
“Most of us, not all of us, but most of us are saying that a fee increase is needed and we’re willing to pay for it to keep the quality that we have in Colorado,” said Axton.
CPW hopes to use the additional funds for a number of projects from constructing new shooting ranges to renovating fish hatcheries, repairing buildings and bathrooms and even planning the next state park.