Bill that would raise hunting, fishing license fees goes to governor | SteamboatToday.com

Bill that would raise hunting, fishing license fees goes to governor

Hikers walk by wildflowers at Steamboat Lake State Park.
Scott Franz
Hunting, Fishing and Parks for Future Generations Act

The Future Generations Act, should it become law, would increase the cost of hunting and fishing licenses for the first time in a decade. The cost of a one-day resident  fishing would increase by $4 to $13, and an annual license would increase by $8 from $26 to $34. Most multi-day resident hunting licenses would increase by $8.

An elk tag for example would increase from $45 to $53, fees that support wildlife habitat work by the department.

The  new law would also allow Parks and Wildlife to adjust future fees  based  on the consumer Price Index.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – A bill, which is intended to raise fishing, hunting and state park fees to create some fiscal breathing room for the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, is poised to have a positive impact on four popular state parks near Steamboat Springs that see hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. 

The “Hunting, Fishing and Parks for Future Generations Act” would increase state funding for Parks and Wildlife for the first time in 13 years, and now, after being approved by the state legislature, it awaits Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signature. Parks and Wildlife relies on revenues derived from the user fees its generates to fund its operations, and those fees have not been adjusted for inflation in all those years.

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.

Routt County is home to some of the most popular state parks on Colorado’s Western Slope.

Visitation at Steamboat Lake State Park, which is located 25 miles north of Steamboat Springs and features 188 campsites and a marina, was 408,587 in 2017.

Park Manager Julie Arington told the Routt County Board of Commissioners last year that the park had total revenues of $460,000 in 2016 against $605,242 in total operating expenses.

Arington also manages Pearl Lake, which has 38 campsites and growing visitation.

“Pearl has become very popular,” she said. “It’s not a secret anymore. There are no electric hookups, but if you don’t like the hustle and bustle at Steamboat Lake, Pearl is a quiet place to go to.”

Yampa River State Park, west of Hayden, sees about 120,000 visitors annually. It offers 50 campsites along with a network of boat ramps on the Yampa River as well as beach access at Elkhead Reservoir.

Stagecoach State Park, on the shores of a 777-acre reservoir three miles east of Oak Creek and 15 miles south of Steamboat, saw visitation grow last year from 155,149 in 2016 to more than 179,000 in 2017.  Stagecoach, with 92 campsites, is the go-to place for Steamboat waterskiing and wakeboarding enthusiasts. Fishing is for trout and northern pike.

But don’t look for the Future Generations Act to result in dramatic upgrades at Steamboat Lake, Stagecoach, Yampa River and Pearl Lake.

Stagecoach State Park Manager Craig Preston said it’s his impression that should the governor sign the bill into law, the new revenue stream would be channeled to general operations. Capital projects, like Stagecoach’s goal of building a permanent visitors center, would likely come only from Great Outdoors Colorado funding.

Preston, who is part of a five-person full-time staff at Stagecoach, said the decision was made last year to cut the number of temporary positions at Stagecoach from 12 to 10 in order to increase the base pay for summer seasonal workers to $12 per hour.

“We’re all eager to learn what this could mean for Stagecoach,” Preston said. “It could have the potential to help us with the annual operating budget.”

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.


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