I try hard not to burden readers with political positioning on this blog. Of late however, I've come across a number of issues that are surfacing which are very troubling. The following is a re-post from Colorado Trout Unlimited that illustrates yet another example of misguided intent to take funds from license purchases, originally designated for the purpose of supporting fish and wildlife conservation (self-funded I might add) in our state, and redirecting them to promote water storage projects for the primary purpose of consumption along the Front Range and propping up irrigation interests in eastern Colorado. I hope you'll indulge me.
About HB 1150
About HB 1150
Colorado’s anglers and hunters have always led the way in funding wildlife management in Colorado – and indeed, the Division of Wildlife doesn’t receive a penny from the state’s general fund. Yet we now face a situation in which simply buying our license will not be enough to secure funding for fish and wildlife.
HB 1150, sponsored by Representative Becker from eastern Colorado, would take $5 million a year for 10 years – totaling $50 million – from wildlife cash funds at the Division of Wildlife and transfer it to the Colorado Water Conservation Board to help fund water storage projects. While some water storage projects may be needed, they should be paid for by the cities or irrigators who will benefit from them – not by the sportspeople of Colorado who have paid our fishing and hunting license dollars in order to benefit fish and wildlife.
To make matters worse, by diverting license dollars from the Division of Wildlife, Colorado would lose its eligibility for federal wildlife funds – funds that come from proceeds on taxes that sportspeople pay on everything from fishing gear to boat fuel to ammunition. As a condition of receiving these federal funds, states must maintain the fees paid for hunting and fishing licenses under the control of the state wildlife agency and for use on fish and wildlife management. If HB 1150 passes, Colorado’s sportspeople would continue paying taxes into these federal programs – but because of the diversion of license fees, Colorado would lose the $21 million a year in federal matching grants for wildlife it currently receives. Colorado would only regain eligibility for those grants when the full amount of diverted funds was restored.
The combined effect of the direct raid on your license dollars with the loss of federal grants means that we would see a $260 million loss of funding for fish and wildlife conservation over the next ten years. This would be devastating for the Division of Wildlife and its ability to conserve fish and wildlife and provide for high-quality hunting and fishing opportunities.
What You Can Do
1) Call your State Representative today and tell them you and a sportsman or women against game funds for water projects. Ask them to vote no on HB 1150.
You can reach the Capitol by calling: 1-800-811-7647 (or 303-866-2904 within the Denver-metro area). If you don't know who your State Representative is or how to reach them, you can look them up and find their contact information by clicking here, selecting your state, and entering your zip code.Phone calls are most effective – and it is fine to leave a voice mail message indicating that you are a hunter/angler/outdoorsperson and are concerned about HB 1150 and what it would mean for Colorado. Emails can also help, particularly if they are customized to convey your personal concerns as a constituent.
2) Testify on behalf of sportsmen and women living in your community. HB 1150 is scheduled for hearing in the House Agriculture Committee on Monday, February 21. This is an opportunity for the public to voice their concerns. Please contact Erica Stock firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to testify.
4) Attend our upcoming Sportsmen's Day at the Legislature. Join fellow conservation-minded sportsmen and women NEXT Thursday, February 17th 8am @ the State Capitol for 'Sportsmen's Day at the Legislature'. Click here for more information. To RSVP email Aaron Kindle at email@example.com.