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Mon., May 2, 2011, 10:03 a.m.

Hunting, fishing fee-increase bill on Gregoire’s desk

HUNTING/FISHING -- Washington's hunting and fishing license fees will be increased by an average of 9.9 percent, according to Senate Bill 5385, passed last week by the Washington Legislature and sent to Gov. Chris Gregoire for her signature.
The new fees, which include a few that have been reduced, will be effective Sept. 1.
Read on for details on the new fees in a report from Allen Thomas of the Vancouver Columbian.
A resident freshwater fishing license will increase from $26 currently to $29.50. A combination freshwater-saltwater-shellfish license will jump from $48.20 to $54.25.

The increase is estimated to produce $16.1 million in new revenue for the Department of Fish and Wildlife in the 2011-13 budget period.

Phil Anderson, state wildlife director, said the measure will help the department meet its conservation goals and continue to offer hunting and fishing.

"Especially gratifying is the strong show of support we received from hunters and anglers who recognize the importance of sustainable management of our fish and wildlife resources,'' he said.

Not all fees are increasing. A resident deer hunting license drops slightly from $45.20 today to $44.90. A resident elk hunting license increases from $45.20 to $50.40.

The two-pole endorsement drops from $24.50 to $14.80, while the endorsement required to fish in the Columbia River and tributaries for salmon and steelhead remains $8.75.

"To an even greater extent, recreational fishermen and hunters now support the lion's share of the Department of Fish and Wildlife,'' said Ed Wickersham of Ridgefield, government relations chair for the Coastal Conservation Association in Washington. "The department needs to recognize the value of recreational fisheries. Commercial fisheries need to operate so they don't constrain recreational fishing.''

Larry Snyder, president of the Vancouver Wildlife League, said it has been more than a decade since license fees changed and an increase was due.

A $3.50 increase in a freshwater fishing license is reasonable, he added.

The state Senate adopted the increase by a 38-8 vote. Sens. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, and Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, voted in favor of the new fees. Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, opposed the increase.

The state House voted 55-42 to approve the increase. Voting in favor were Reps. Joe Moeller, D-Vancouver, and Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver. Opposed were Reps. Tim Probst, D-Vancouver; Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, and Ann Rivers, R-La Center.

Non-resident licenses will increase by much larger amounts.

A non-resident freshwater fishing license jumps from $50 today to $84.50 in September. A non-resident freshwater-saltwater-shellfish license will change from $91.40 to $123.55.

A non-resident elk license increases from $434 to $497, while a non-resident deer and elk license goes from $674 today to $739 in September.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife had a 2009-11 budget of $327.8 million, down $22 million from 2007-09. House and Senate leaders still are negotiating the 2011-13 amount, but the estimated $16.1 million generated by the fee increase will help offset other cuts in funding.

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Rich Landers writes and photographs stories and columns for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including Outdoors feature sections on Sunday and Thursday.