Executive Director Glenn Normandeau: 603-271-3511
Jane Vachon: 603-271-3211
December 20, 2013
Everyone Benefits from Fish and Game - Let's Work Together on a Funding Solution
By Glenn Normandeau, Executive Director, N.H. Fish and Game Department
"I honestly believe that most people who enjoy New Hampshire's outdoors and value our quality of life are willing to do their part." - Glenn Normandeau
It seems like everyone is talking about canoe and kayak decals these days. I am writing in response to the volume of public comment the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has received recently following news reports about the recommendations of the Commission on Fish and Game Department Sustainability. One of several possible revenue sources it recommended considering was a non-motorized watercraft decal. In fact, no laws have been passed or decisions made yet on that or other ideas for generating future funding.
The Commission is a Legislative body established last year to look at the funding gap between what the Department takes in and the revenue we need to fulfill all of our obligations to the residents and guests of New Hampshire. In spite of significant reductions in personnel over the last three biennial budgets, rising costs are still outpacing revenue. This gap is a serious problem, and time is short. Unless something changes, the Fish and Game Fund will be depleted by the end of this biennium (June 30, 2015). Given our mission of conserving the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats, it would be irresponsible for us to sit back and do nothing.
What's at stake are the services people across the state count on the Fish and Game Department to provide, from managing wildlife populations to rescuing hikers, stocking fish and building boat ramps. It takes financial resources for the Fish and Game Department to do its job properly.
The citizens of New Hampshire care deeply about the state's fish and wildlife, land conservation, and access to public waters. Fish and Game is the agency that protects and maintains these valued resources, which not only have significant intrinsic value in their own right, but are a powerful economic engine for New Hampshire. Hunting, fishing and wildlife watching alone contribute approximately $550 million annually to the economy of the state.
As the budget was hammered out for the current biennium, the Legislature recognized the importance of finding new revenue for Fish and Game, and had the foresight to set up the Sustainability Commission. This body is proceeding to look for a solution in a reasonable, responsible manner. Along the way, they will be listening to public concerns.
The commission cares about impacts of various revenue-raising ideas on particular publics. That said, they also recognize that all citizens, as well as the guests that fund our second largest state industry, tourism, benefit from the services provided by Fish and Game, while the majority of the financial burden of operating the Department has been squarely on the shoulders of the state’s sportsmen and women who hunt and fish.
We look forward to the discussion in the coming months, as the Sustainability Commission works with the Fish and Game Department and the public to find new revenues to fill the gap. I intend to strive for an outcome where a means can be found by which the broader public that benefits from Fish and Game’s services contributes to its operation. I honestly believe that most people who enjoy New Hampshire's outdoors and value our quality of life are willing to do their part. Let's focus our energies on finding a solution together. Thank you for your interest and engagement as we go forward. Read the Sustainability Commission's initial report and learn more at wildnh.com/funding.
- ### -