A proposal to allow Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to modestly increase state park entrance fees and prices for in-state hunting and fishing licenses overwhelmingly passed the Colorado House on Thursday and was sent to Gov. John Hickenlooper for his signature.
The House passed the bill 45-17. The bill passed the Senate last month on a 35-0 vote.
If signed into law by the governor, the Hunting, Fishing and Parks for Future Generations Act would provide CPW a cash infusion for the first time in 13 years. This new revenue will help CPW catch up after years of inflation, minimum wage hikes, soaring utility costs and other price increases.
The agency justified the increases noting that resident hunting and fishing licenses have not been raised since 2005 and park passes have not been raised since 2010. To continue to conserve wildlife resources, maintain valuable infrastructure, ensure a quality state park system, operate and maintain outdoor recreation programs and to continue to serve the citizens of Colorado, CPW must increase its revenue base to meet the demand of a booming population. Recreation opportunities provided by the agency generate about $6.1 billion a year for Colorado’s economy.
Under the bill, a one-day fishing license for a Colorado resident would go up by $4 and an annual license would increase by $8. The bill also would allow CPW to adjust future fees based on the Consumer Price Index. Most multi-day resident hunting licenses would increase by $8 under the bill. For example, an elk tag would increase from $45 to $53. The bill also allows a $1 increase on the $7 daily park entrance fees. Annual passes which now cost $70 would increase $10.
“Recreation needs conservation, otherwise we have no place to play, and conservation needs recreation,” said CPW Director Bob Broscheid. “Our wild spaces, wildlife and natural resources need people to care enough to invest in them for the long term
"All Coloradans benefit from healthy parks and abundant wildlife - they bring us a sense of place and purpose. This important act will help CPW fulfill its mission to the people of Colorado by protecting and perpetuating the wildlife resources and outdoor recreation of the state for future generations.”
Without the license and fee increases in the bill, CPW forecasts budget shortfalls of $30 million annually for wildlife and $11 million annually for parks by 2025.
In a short address on Facebook Live outside Denver’s Capitol Building on Thursday afternoon, Broscheid thanked the sponsors of the bill, Sen. Don Coram, Sen. Stephen Fenberg, Rep. Jeni Arndt and Rep. James Wilson, as well as the many supporters whose tireless efforts helped bring the bill across the finish line.
“Thank you very much for your leadership,” he said. “I want to thank all of the Parks and Wildlife staff that contributed to make this effort be successful, as well as the numerous organizations and individual constituents that showed up at the legislature to get this bill through. I can’t thank you all enough and we’re not going to let you down.”
With this new funding, CPW commits to pursuing the following goals and objectives by 2025:
- Grow the number of hunters and anglers in Colorado through investments in programs such as hunter education, Fishing is Fun, and the Cameo Shooting and Education Complex, and grants for shooting ranges in all regions of the state.
- Expand access for hunters, anglers and outdoor recreationists by renewing existing high-priority leases and supporting additional public access programs on public and private lands.
- Increasing and improve big game populations through investments in habitat and conservation, including building more highway wildlife crossings to protect wildlife and motorists.
- Improving species distribution and abundance monitoring and disease prevention efforts through partnerships with private landowners.
- Increase the number of fish stocked in Colorado waters through hatchery modernization and renovations.
- Identify and begin planning the development of Colorado’s next state park.
- Reduce risks to life and property and sustain water-based recreation opportunities by reducing CPW’s dam maintenance and repair backlog by 50 percent.
- Partner with outdoor recreationists, such as hikers, bikers, and wildlife watchers, to develop strategies for funding the maintenance of state lands and facilities and the management of wildlife.
- Recruit and retain qualified employees to manage wildlife, park, recreational and aquatic resources.
- Provide quality infrastructure at CPW properties by completing much needed construction and maintenance.
CPW relies on user fees, not general tax dollars, to fund its work. Hunting and fishing licenses, park entrance fees and OHV, boat and snowmobile registration fees are the primary source of funding for the agency. CPW has worked hard to ensure that any fee increases are minimal, and will help in accomplishing the much-needed maintenance and goals set forth by agency leadership.
“We are building on an amazing legacy that was handed to us with the intention that these resources are left in the same or better shape and that they outlive each of us,” said John Howard, chairman of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission. “We will ensure that the agency be accountable to the people of Colorado and the legislature by providing annual reports on the spending and progress toward achieving the 10 goals outlined within the bill.”
For more information on the Hunting, Fishing and Parks for Future Generations Act visit: http://cpw.state.co.us/Future-Generations-Act