With a looming 2017 debt for pension obligations and growing infrastructure costs, Fish and Boat Commission executive director John Arway is looking for money.
He's opposed to raising license fees. ("Not a good idea -- we'd lose 8-10 percent of participation," he said.) He also is opposed to merging the state's wildlife management agencies. ("Every time it's been studied, it's been dismissed," he said.) Since reversing course recently on a cost-cutting proposal to close two trout hatcheries, Arway is down to two big alternative funding ideas to keep the agency running in the black on its $55 million annual budget.
He's lobbying state legislators for a new law that would charge industries for "consumptive use" of water -- that is, the permanent removal of water from Pennsylvania's environment. The bottled water and Marcellus Shale industries are among those that pay nothing to extract water that is never returned to the commonwealth's water table. A state Senate resolution, now in committee, would appropriate funds to study the idea. Arway suggests that revenues would be split between Fish and Boat and the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Arway is also angling for a piece of the state's existing 12 cents per gallon liquid fuels tax, which by law is used to fund roads and bridges.
"Why should money spent on fuel for power boats go to roads and bridges?" he said. "By rights that should go to management of the waterways," a responsibility shared by Fish and Boat and the DEP.
Arway said power boaters in the state use about a million gallons of gasoline annually. His proposal is in addition to revenues from federal Dingell-Johnson excise taxes on power boat fuel.
State law holds that no landowner can be held liable for death or injury that occurs when access to the land was granted for recreational purposes with the owner's permission. New legislation introduced last week would add that property owners are not held responsible for violations of hunting laws and regulations committed by people granted permission to hunt on their land.
The annual Yellow Creek Fly Fishing Classic, a fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, will be held April 27-28 at the Yellow Creek Trout Club in Indiana County. Details at http://wpa.cff.org/flyfishing
A fly-tying demo and Reel For Recovery presentation will be held by the Upper St. Clair Fly Fishing Club at 7 p.m. Monday at Upper St. Clair Library multi-purpose room, Upper St. Clair municipal building (lower level behind the police entrance), 1820 McLaughlin Run Road. 412-835-6107.
Registration for the Tubmill Trout Club's annual statewide Top Tom Spring Gobbler Hunt is open through April 26; youths can register until Friday. Details at www.tubmilltroutclub.org.
The Sportsman's Access Area at Mahoning Creek Lake, Armstrong County, will be closed April 22 and 29 while work is performed on the dam's hydroelectric plant.
All seasons, sizes and creel limits have been lifted at Colyer Lake, Centre County, following word that the 77-acre impoundment will be drained pending currently unfunded dam repairs.