This Thursday, a bill to eventually increase hunting and fishing license fees up to 50 percent will be considered in the Senate Finance Committee. The bill, introduced late in the session, has suffered criticism for the sweeping nature of the increase with little time for analysis, big amendments, and a lack of stakeholder outreach. Now, a new concern is on the table. The beneficiary agency of the increased fees - Colorado’s Department of Parks and Wildlife (CPW) - is threatening to withhold from Coloradans the most popular services they offer for passage of the increase.
In a recent interview with the Durango Herald, CPW’s lobbyist, Doug Vilsack, implied that without the fee they would discontinue offering their most utilized services to Colorado’s residents.
“Without funding, other reservoirs could close for want of inspection stations, Vilsack said. That could include some of the largest ones in Colorado."
“We were talking Grand Lake,” he said.”
“Washington Monument Syndrome” is a phrase used to describe these types of actions from government agencies - cutting back first on the most visible and popular services to taxpayers in the face of financial constraints - in an attempt to put pressure on elected officials to boost budgets. The idea that CPW would shut Grand Lake to boats, a popular tourist destination and vacation spot, is an example of this syndrome at its worst.
“Using a tactic literally perfected in the heart of Washington DC against Colorado outdoors-people is beneath the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife,” said Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado. “Although there is a case to be made that CPW could come back next year, earlier in the session, with a better crafted and considered budget fix that could find widespread support, holding their most popular services hostage in an attempt to scare and intimidate people is not an acceptable strategy. Colorado taxpayers don’t generally take kindly to threats.”