The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is proposing a 15-percent boost in recreational hunting and fishing license fees for 2019, with caps on the increase for people who buy multiple licenses in “bundled” packages.
The commission, a citizen board appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will include the recommendation with other proposals designed to eliminate a $31 million gap between projected revenue and expenses during the two-year state budget cycle that begins next July.
The commissioners voted on August 27 to replace an earlier 5-percent proposed increase with the 15-percent proposal. To cushion the impact on people who buy multiple hunting and fishing licenses, the commission would limit the maximum increase for bundled packages to $7 for fishing and $15 for hunting. For example, WDFW sells multiple fishing licenses in the “Fish Washington” package and plans to create additional value packages to hold down license costs for avid recreationists.
“The commission never likes to propose fee increases, but WDFW needs better funding to meet public expectations and ongoing legal requirements,” chairman Brad Smith said after the decision. “Knowing we have the support of key recreation and conservation leaders enabled us to improve the balance of our funding request between general tax dollars and revenue from license sales.”
The commission directed WDFW to propose to governor Inslee that the state close the $31 million funding gap and make another $28 million of spending increases with a mix of roughly 75 percent in general funds and 25 percent in increased license revenue. The commission approved the license-fee revision on a voice vote, with only commissioner Don McIsaac expressing opposition.
Additional information about WDFW’s budget is available at wdfw.wa.gov/about/budget/development/.