SALEM, Ore. – Services and programs provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will be sustained through 2015 under a two-year budget proposal approved Friday by the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The nearly $300 million proposed budget includes increases in recreational and commercial fees. The increases, which would take effect January 2010, are necessary to allow continued maintenance and operation of current programs, to address some critical needs identified by the public, and to avoid future program cuts.
The proposal also includes a general funds request for habitat and conservation efforts included in the Oregon Conservation Strategy.
Based on current revenue and spending patterns, budget managers testified to the Commission that the agency will need a fee increase in the 2009-2011 biennium to avoid future cuts in core department programs. Nearly all license and tag fees would increase under the proposal. Many of the commercial, occupational and miscellaneous fees have not been raised in more than 15 years.
“The department is at a crossroads,” said Commission Chair Marla Rae. “Without a fee increase, important programs will be cut. This budget is an investment in the future of fish and wildlife in Oregon.”
Revenue from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and tags supports approximately one-third of the agency’s budget. The last fee increase the agency received was in January 2004.
The average recreational fee increase for resident hunters and fishermen is approximately 21 percent. Among the new fee proposals is a $15 two-pole permit for fishing in lakes and reservoirs, and a $50 juvenile Sportspac array of licenses and tags, including the shellfish license.
Department staff hosted a series of town hall meetings during the spring to present budget proposals and get feedback from the public.
“The public told us that they would support a fee increase if they see more fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities,” said ODFW Director, Roy Elicker. “This budget proposal will help get us there.”
Now that the budget proposal is approved by the Commission, it will be submitted to the Governor for his consideration. The department’s budget will ultimately be determined by the 2009 Legislature.