By Frank Krist, NMCN Contributing Editor
There have been several legislative hearings completed reviewing the Governor’s DNR budget proposal and the hunting and fishing license fee restructuring. A few adjustments have been suggested, but overall support has been expressed for the proposal with many organizations backing it. This package still has not been approved by the legislature, so it is important that we continue to let our legislators know the importance of adequately funding hunting and fishing throughout Michigan. Any organizations with whom we are affiliated are already on record as supporting the proposal. It remains critical, however, that each of us call our State Senators and Representatives individually, as well. We are making progress, but with a little more effort we can ensure that this proposal is a success resulting in increased fishing and hunting opportunities.
The following links provide a list of Michigan State Senators and another list of Michigan State Representatives. The lists provide phone numbers of your State Representative and Senator and by clicking a link you will be connected to their website where you can view a map of the district along with email addresses and much other information.
Included below are some of the items that would be funded by additional revenue from the new proposed budget:
- Increasing the rearing and stocking of fish by addressing infrastructure needs at DNR hatcheries.
- Increasing the acres of public game areas receiving habitat management or maintenance; providing grants to stakeholders for this purpose; increasing the acres of state forest land where wildlife habitat management or maintenance is performed.
- Providing grants to stakeholders to increase fisheries habitat on inland lakes and streams.
- Increasing outreach to anglers who fish for perch, bluegill and bass to improve angler retention.
- Increasing the Pheasant Restoration Initiative focus on public lands throughout Southern Michigan.
- Increasing technical assistance for fisheries habitat improvement on coldwater streams.
- Increasing creel surveys and assessments on inland lakes and streams to monitor fishing results.
- Expanding hunter access opportunities in southern Michigan.
- Replacing the Great Lakes research vessel Chinook: $2 million one-time General Fund expenditure to replace the 65-year old Great Lakes research vessel
- Training and hiring 25 new Conservation Officers.
It has been 16 years since there has been an increase in funding for the Fisheries and Wildlife Divisions and the proposal would enable fishing and hunting opportunities in the State to increase. With the new strategic plans and increased transparency from the DNR Divisions, the public will have an opportunity to voice how the new funds will be utilized.