RELEASE: MUCC Statement on Governor’s Proposed DNR Budget, License Changes

Michigan’s outdoors plays a vital role in Michigan’s prosperity and that was clearly  evident in several of the recommendations highlighted in Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s proposed 2014 budget.

During his budget unveiling Thursday, Gov. Snyder announced recommendations that address three key areas of concern to our members: Conservation funding, fish and game law enforcement and Great Lakes access.

As part of his recommendations, Gov. Snyder recommended a restructuring of the DNR’s hunting, fishing and trapping licensing system.   He also recommended additional General Fund appropriations for Conservation Officers and a mix of General Fund and Waterways funding for anticipated dredging operations due to historically-low water levels in the Great Lakes.

Gov. Snyder’s budget proposal includes a DNR operating budget of $351.8 million for 2014 .  The Governor also recommends a one-time funding of $2.6 million from the state’s general fund for a conservation officer school and a new Great Lakes research vessel.

Of the $351.8 million budget,  just $24.7 million is General Fund monies–just 7%. The remaining funds come from an array of sources outside of general taxpayer-funds such as license and user fees and Federal funding sources such as Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Act funds. The budget proposal is a $16.5 million increase in the DNR’s budget over 2013.

In his recommendations, Gov. Snyder provided a brief outline of a new license structure that would include a base hunting license good for small game and waterfowl hunters. Separate, stand-alone tags for other species (deer, turkeys, bears, etc.) can then be added. The Governor’s recommendations indicated that the system would be simpler and easier to administer. The Governor’s proposal anticipates an increase of $18 million in license fees as a result of the changes, making it the first increase since 1996.

“Hunter, angler and trapper dollars fund the lion’s share of conservation in Michigan and our license fees are a large part of the Department of Natural Resources’ operating budget,” said Erin McDonough, Executive Director of MUCC. “Our members deserve the very best in resource management that those license dollars can deliver. We are in favor of simplifying regulations and in having an easy-to-understand licensing system so long as it means the end result is a better system and better on-the-ground investments for sportsmen and women.

“We are currently evaluating the proposal as well as taking a hard look at current DNR spending. We have spent the last year, at the request of our members, working with the Department to improve transparency and to get the information we need to be able to understand how our licenses fees are spent and where they should be focused in the future.  We appreciate the Snyder’s administration’s commitment to measurable results and openness to helping us answer the question: ‘Where are our license fees spent?’  We look forward to working with the Governor, the DNR and our members in this process.”

Low water levels this summer threaten to make many of Michigan’s boating access sites unusable and we agree with the Governor that actions must be taken to ensure those sites remain open.

“Ensuring access to our lakes is not only important to our members and those who love to fish and boat, it’s also vital to the state’s economy,” said McDonough. “Without access to the Great Lakes, Michigan’s $3 billion sport fishing industry would take a big hit.”

  • Carl Schardt

    Over the last decade the DNR has moaned about the decrease in the number of deer hunters and has issued almost unlimited doe permits in Southern Michigan, yet has raised the non-resident license fees and priced many out of hunting in Michigan. I’ve never been fond of out-of-state hunters, but would it make more sense to sell 50,000 permits at $85 each or 25,000 at $138 each? I don’t know the breakdown in numbers as to the reduction in non resident hunters, I would love to see them. The difference could be in the millions of dollars if we encourage more non-residents. I know the area I hunt in Wexford county where 30 years ago you could rarely go in the woods without seeing hunter orange has now become my parties near private reserve. In the last 6 years I have seen one other deer hunter in the field and this is on 7000 acres of National Forest.

  • Robert

    Time to look REAL hard at just what the DNR is doing all the way around. With NO Conservation focus from them, there is no proper environments to support any hunting environments. Invasive Species, out of control, only means a Mono-culture of no Biodiversity, and is already leading to a decline and disease in the Deer population, Fish health and much more. It almost does not matter where our license fees are being spent if there Biodiversity of Michigan is zip. No one fought against the recent BILL SB 78 which would have destroyed hunting and fishing in Michigan. Our License fees again, would have meant nothing after this BILL would have passed. Time to expand what our MUCC is doing and looking at. And HOW.

  • Lynn Garvie

    The base license does me no good. I dont hunt small game or waterfowl. So why should I be made to buy them just to hunt deer and turkey?

    • Mark A

      Lynn, many states have a base license fee. I piulled this quote from Mich hunting/fishing mews and I think it says it all. ” it’s been 16 years since legislators last raised hunting and fishing license fees, which are the major source of funding for the DNR’s Fisheries, Wildlife and Law Enforcement divisions. Can you imagine owning a business and not raising the price of your product for 16 years? You’d likely be out of business.” “Heck, the cost of gas alone has risen over 300 percent since 1997 when it averaged around $1.06 a gallon. And what about increases in supplies and the cost of living and doing business?”

      It’s time we bit the bullet brother. Like it or not, it just makes sense. We’re only talking ten dollars here, it’s not like it’s going to break the bank.

  • Lynn Garvie

    If they want to raise money let them start making pleasure boaters to pay a base fee to ski, jet boat canoe ect? I know that will piss a bunch of people. But it is an idea

    • Average Joe

      I can tell by your response you are not a boater. Pleasure boaters pay high registration fee’s plus launch ramp fee’s. Not to mention the higher price for fuel on the water. do your homework.

  • PALarson

    I own 98 acres of land, I feed and carefor deer,turkeys, and game birds. Because I am a Florida resident and only spend $6,000.00 a year in Michigan property taxes I have to pay an enormus out of state hunting licence fee. I gave up and no longer hunt in MIchigan, I just watch the deer on my property.

    • Mark A

      Just because you own land here doesn’t make you a resident. Your home state of Florida charges non residents $151 to hunt deer. In comparison, Michigan only charges $138 for a non-resident deer license. Your complaint is unfounded.

  • Jim Launstein

    All we get is closed off roads,and less hunting access from the DNR, now the governor wants to increase license fees, I see he is still doing less for more ( unless you are a big bucks manufacture ).

  • Concerned

    It’s time to stop bitch’n about how much our hunting license cost , Most states would love our prices but I think the whole license structure needs to be gone through and we need more DNR in the field. Have a 25-30 dollar pass and then add on from that double the elk and raise the rest slightly and decrease out of state tags by atleast a 1/3 until we the quality of animals . Add boating fee to help with the current needs of our water ways.

  • Mark A

    Sure is a lot of complaining here. Michiganders have been paying some of the lowest license fees of ANY state for decades. It’s time to pay the piper boys. There’s no free lunch! if you want better hunting and more law enforcement, you have to pay. Go take a look at what the western states are paying. A deer Res license in Wyoming is $38.00 (and yes, the hunting is spectacular) Ohio’s is $25.00, Indiana is $24.00, I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. Stop complaining. If you don’t like it, don’t hunt.

  • woodsman

    In michigan I lived my whole life. As a kid you could go fishing in the creeks around where I lived and caught fish. And now them same places you are lucky to see a fish. But you want to raise licences fees. I use to hunt squirrel on state land around where I live. You could get your limit now your lucky to see 2 or 3. The same goes for deer the EHD killed all them off. Your lucky to see any of them now. But licence fee are suppose to go up. So we can sit in the woods where there are no animals or on a lake or creek bank where there are no fish. To pay more fees. So the funding that come from higher fees can take care of other things in our great state. Leave the fees alone and spend them where they should be spent. Not on fixxing roads or bridges ect. Put the funds back into the wildlife and the fishery. Then charge the out of staters more on their licences fee. We havnt charged them that much over the year look at what Michiganders pay in other states to hunt deer western states are a lot more. More money less rewards thats what its all about Maybe more pleasure for Snyder. Maybe Snyder needs a pay cut along with all the others elected Officials. Thats where we can make a differences. We could have beautiful roads and more wildlife and the fishery would be thriving.

    • Mark A

      Woodsman, there are a LOT more people using our states resources these days compared to when you were a kid. They catch the fish, shoot the squirrels and hunt the deer. But there are MANY other reasons you may not be seeing game. Reasons not understood or unseen by the regular Joe. Predation and disease just to name a few. Loss of habitat or predation to critters you may not even begin to think play a part in the role of nature and the way it affects other animals (like squirrels or fish for instance). Yes, EHD did kill about 11,000 deer last year (you can’t blame the DNR for that), but that pales in comparison to the 50,000 that die EVERY year in car/deer collisions. and even through all that, hunters still took 440,000 deer last year. If your not seeing deer, maybe it’s time to find a better spot to hunt, or change your tactics. It seems like everyone want’s something for nothing. You can’t have great hunting without funding. You can’t have big deer without antler restrictions, and you can’t operate a DNR on the same budget that you did 16 years ago (the last time license fees were raised by the legislature)
      i’m probably posting too much and am too long winded, but it’s REALLY disappointing to see so many people, especially older people (and I am one) complain so much about paying so little. Evne with all the fee hikes we will STILL be cheaper than all the surrounding states.
      I want my grand children to say “Boy, them old timers really knew what they were doing and took good care of our states resources for us”

      Stepping down off my soap box now.

  • walranger5

    This plan forces non salmon fisherman the majority to pay for stocking salmon they don’t fish for.

  • Robert

    The biggest issue here is watching just what our DNR does with the money. Their insane focus on BIKE Pathways and controlling our Recreational experiences, as they say in their own words, is one of our states biggest problems. How Parks & recreation Ron Olson got so much power is beyond me, but he needs to be watched closely after what he has done these last two years with PASSPORT finds and the shifting of personal and resources to serve his department and neglect all others.