BOISE, Idaho - The state Fish and Game Department has developed a plan to raise fees for catching salmon and steelhead and hunting antlered elk and deer.
The proposal includes lesser increases for hunting and fishing fees overall and is expected to generate $7 million for the agency. The department will take the plan to state lawmakers next year for approval.
Director Cal Groen said the plan to raise some fees more than others is modeled after a business standard.
"Your high-quality products, you're going to charge more for," Groen told The Spokesman-Review.
The department operates with money from hunting and fishing tag fees, which haven't been raised in four years, and federal and private grants.
If state lawmakers approve the fee increase, 80 percent of the money would go toward maintaining programs that already exist. The remaining 20 percent would go toward improvements, such as expanding fish hatcheries and designating more fishing areas for families in urban areas.
Fish and game officials decided to target the highest fee increases only for specific types of fish, elk and deer to keep the new tag fees from deterring lower-income Idaho residents.
Under the proposal, tags for salmon and steelhead would increase 63 percent, from $11 to $18, for Idaho residents. The controlled hunt deer tags would increase 36 percent, from $18 to $23, and the elk tags would go up 25 percent, from $29 to $36.50 for Idaho residents.
The fees that non-Idaho residents under the age of 17 pay to hunt elk here were among the largest increases in the proposal. The cost of those tags will go up 157 percent, from $14.75 to $38.
Idaho Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, co-chairman of the House and Senate joint budget committee, said the structure of the fee proposal has some appeal, but the plan could still face opposition.
"I think conceptually, fee increases are going to be a tough sell in this Legislature," Cameron said.
Information from: The Spokesman-Review
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