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Hunting, fishing fees could rise in Colorado, thanks to sportsmen

Author: Joey Bunch - March 29, 2018 - Updated: April 5, 2018

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huntingJim Bonham of Aurora takes aim at a pheasant in Seibert in 2000. (Photo by Joseph John Kotlowski/Colorado Springs Gazette)

DENVER — A bill to increase hunting and fishing fees, with a raft of other revenue-raisers, appears headed for passage in the Colorado General Assembly.

The money, nearly $20 million projected by its second year, would go to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, a state agency that depends solely on licenses,  fees and taxes on outdoorsmen to get by.

The increases would be the state agency’s first in 13 years.

Senate Bill 143 is awaiting a hearing before the House Finance Committee on its way to the floor. The bill passed the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee 8-4 this week, after passing the Senate 35-0 on March 13.

The bill was sponsored in the House by Reps. Jeni Arndt, D-Fort Collins, and Jim Wilson, R-Salida, who had the official support of 54 groups, from the Colorado Farm Bureau to the Mule Deer Association.

Arndt said sportsmen and outfitters told her, “Please, we’d like to pay more, because we want to take better care of our public lands.”

“To me, that’s pretty special,” Arndt told the committee she normally chairs.

Wilson is a conservative Republican and an avid hunter and angler who said he would not be as passionate if the need was not so important.

“I felt we out to be at the table or be on the menu,” he said of outdoorsmen.

The agency is at a breaking point; it might have to cut off services or access to public lands to balance its budget.

A bill to raise fees last year failed, so sponsors cut the amount of money they were asking for in increases, including only nominal hikes for hunting deer and elk, game that’s most typically consumed, while maintaining price breaks for older Coloradans and low-income sportsmen.

The cost of fees and licenses would ratchet up with the consumer price index to keep Colorado Parks and Wildlife out future funding jams.

On the list of increases, a one-day fishing license for a Colorado resident would go up by $4 and an annual license would go up by $8. A non-resident would see an a daily pass rise by $7 and a five-day pass by $10.

Hunting licenses fees increase by as little as a quarter to as much as $50.

For a list of all the proposed increases, click here.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.