|The price to hunt may increase if the legislature approves proposed fee increases.|
Derris Jones, Southeastern director for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources presented the Emery County Commission a PILT check at the Jan. 16 meeting. The check was for $2,751.30 Jones said, "We appreciate the working relationship we have with Emery County." Commissioner Drew Sitterud said that Payment in Lieu of Taxes is paid to the county by state and federal agencies for property owned in the county on which they don't pay taxes.
Jones reported that post season deer counts have gone well. The objective is 15 bucks to 100 does and all units have met or exceeded these numbers. Last year the division recommended the deer hunt go back to nine days, but the public voiced their opinion that it should stay at a five day hunt until the deer have recovered significantly. It doesn't make a difference to the division and if the public would like more days to hunt they need to let the division know.
With the recent storm the division will fly the Manti to count elk. They flew one day on the south end and even though conditions were not great for counting they are seeing a lot of elk. Commissioner Sitterud reminded Jones of the need to include the cattlemen on the flights. Jones said they are working with livestock interests.
The DWR is participating in sheep captures where 15 have been taken to the Dirty Devil and on Jan. 16 the Escalante Unit is being used to capture 12-15 more sheep to supplement the Dirty Devil herd.
Jones said they are meeting in Green River to discuss the habitat initiative money and how it will be allocated and which projects will be worked on this year. They meet in Green River.
Jones addressed the fee increase which they are introducing to the legislature for their approval this session. If fees aren't increased the division will see a $3 million deficit and programs and personnel would have to be cut. Jones said, "We hope this won't occur. We have had a lot of meetings and put the fee increase out there. The fee increase would affect those people applying for big game permits. They would be required to buy a general small game hunting license before they put in for the permits. There will also be an increase in federal aid associated with the number of licenses sold and we would be eligible for that increased aid. A lower combination price would encourage the purchase of a combination hunting and fishing license. This year's application for the big game permits is Jan. 17-Feb. 16 and increases will not affect this year's draw. The division is also proposing the $5 application fee per hunt be increased to $10 per hunt," said Jones.
Jones reported to the Emery County Public Lands council in their January meeting on the benefits of wildlife in the Utah economy. He presented a powerpoint with data from surveys which stated in 1996 the trip related expenses for outdoor activities was $231 million and in 2001 that had increased to $403 million. Jones looked at other factors which contributed to the economy including equipment purchases, fuel purchases, jobs created by wildlife related activities and hunting and fishing related expenses.
Another activity besides hunting and fishing included wildlife watching and related expenses to that. Wildlife viewing expenses went from $2.8 million in 1996 to $4.4 million in 2001. Trip related expenses which include lodging and other expenses went from $236 million to $682 million. Combined contributions to the economy was 1.57 billion which makes hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing a major factor and contributor to the Utah economy.
"Youth are the key to the future, we need to recruit younger hunters and anglers," said Jones. The legislature will act on the fee increases in the legislative session going on now.
Mike McCandless, Emery County economic development director was concerned that the division doesn't see a direct income from wildlife viewers.
In other wildlife matters, the DWR is increasing the fish limit at Scofield from four to eight per license holder. Jones said they are trying to increase the use at that fishery and create more opportunities for families.
Jones was questioned on where the Range Creek management plan is in its completion process. He said they still need to meet with the Bureau of Land Management and clean up the AC/ECs which are areas of critical environmental concern.