February 11, 2010 in Idaho

Idaho rep: Charge picnickers, bird-watchers

By The Spokesman-Review
Betsy Russell photo

Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, proposes legislation Thursday to charge $10 for in-state residents, $20 for out-of-staters who enter certain Fish & Game lands but don’t have fishing or hunting licenses. They’d be cited if they didn’t purchase the new “conservation license.”
(Full-size photo)

BOISE - State Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, says she was stunned to learn that only 23 percent of people who use the Boise River Wildlife Management Area have hunting or fishing licenses, so she’s proposing legislation to require people who enter that and other areas that would be designated by Idaho Fish & Game to purchase $10 “conservation licenses” - $20 for non-Idaho residents.

“I thought everyone that went on wildlife management areas or anywhere were hunters or fishermen,” Boyle told the House Resources Committee this afternoon. “If you do not hold a current hunting, trapping, and fishing license from Fish & Game and you want to go onto their lands, you would need to buy a conservation license.” People who didn’t comply could be cited.

Boyle said the move would raise money for Fish & Game, which could use it for maintenance, weed control, and non-game wildlife. “A lot of the time folks go out there and picnic and leave all their garbage to be picked up,” Boyle said. “They bring weeds … and the seeds sprout. … It’s only fair that anybody that uses it should pay.”

Some committee members weren’t so sure. “If I have a hunting license, then I get to hunt, and I may have something to show for my license,” said Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis. “But I’m not sure if I’m ready to buy a license to rubberneck. And just to step on a property and watch a bird fly off shouldn’t be that expensive.”

Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, spoke out against the bill, saying, “All taxpayers to some degree pay for fish and wildlife lands - they pay because those lands are taken out of production.”

But Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, an avid bird watcher, spoke in support. He said the move could help Fish & Game fund responsibilities it’s been given that don’t pertain to hunting or fishing. “I’m willing to pay a small fee,” he said.

Boyle’s bill would charge $10 for in-state residents or $20 for out-of-staters, adults only. Children wouldn’t be charged, she said. The committee voted to introduce the bill, but three members asked to be recorded as voting no: Barrett, Eskridge, and Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome.

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