Yes to hunting, fishing fee hike
The Joey Bunch article on the hunting and fishing license fee increase bill in Wednesday's Gazette points out that sportsmen, who now pay for virtually all of Colorado's fish and wildlife management, are willing to continue to do so.
As an avid hunter and occasional fisherman, I recognize that this license fee increase is overdue. Not many things can be purchased today for what they cost 12 years ago. The same is true for game management in our increasingly complex world and threatened ecosystems. For example, just look at the zebra and quagga mussel threat to our rivers, lakes and water supply systems.
Along with fee increases to play catch-up, House Bill 1321 would allow the Parks and Wildlife Commission to adjust future fees according to a consumer price index thus smoothing out the revenue stream instead of the wide swings that have occurred in the past as fee increases at 10-14 year intervals are eaten up by persistent inflation and new wildlife challenges.
Colorado has the largest elk herd in the nation along with huntable populations of ten big-game species. This is a truly special resource not only for hunters but for wildlife watchers as well. Liberal allocations of nonresident licenses brings in large business revenues to rural towns in the fall. Let's give Colorado Parks and Wildlife the resources they need to maintain this spectacular resource and many benefits.
Enthusiasts should support activity
After reading the article in today's Gazette concerning the very large increases in hunting and fishing licenses, I feel compelled to put in my 2 cents, or more accurately my hundreds of dollars. This issue actually transcends hunting and fishing. There are massive revenues going unrealized in the form of excise taxes, registration fees, trail fees and transportation costs from the bicycle industry and their customers. Tax the spandex! Bicycle enthusiasts do not pay anything to support trail, parking, erosion control, bike lanes and all other expenses related to bicycling, whether it is on a trail or on a paved road. All products related to these activities need to have excise taxes attached to support the maintenance of said facilities.
Habitat stamp purchases should be required for all mountain bike owners and road tax and registration fees for all road bikes and related equipment. Let these enthusiasts realize the pride of supporting the activities they are passionate about. Please don't be hypocritical when you advocate for conservation and preservation, put your money where your mouth is. Become a proud stakeholder in the burgeoning bicycle community here in Colorado. Colorado is considered a "Bellweather" state, leading the nation many times concerning conservation, legislative and social issues. Let's lead once again, by financially supporting our environment.
Restoring the howl of the wolf
In a recent letter to the editor, Nathan Kettner hit the nail on the head when he opined that in our increasingly humanized world wildlife need to be managed. That is an essential lesson from wolf recovery in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. From the original reintroductions to all field activities that occurred before the state's gained control, wolf recovery was the epitome of science-based management.
This is not to say that efforts to prevent state control were not frustrating. But any fair assessment of those efforts forces one to conclude that the problems that surfaced were solely the result of miscues by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over administrative aspects of wolf recovery. In contrast, wolf management in the field was done in an exemplary manner that balanced the tension between the need to grow wolf population size to satisfy the federal Endangered Species Act and kill wolves to resolve conflicts with livestock.
The other essential lesson from the Northern Rockies recovery effort is that wolf management by state fish and game agencies is appropriate.
This is why I support a state-led effort to restore the species to western Colorado. There is no good reason why we need the federal government to do what Coloradans can accomplish cost-effectively, certainly, and humanely: restore the gray wolf to the vast public wildlands of the western half of our great state.
On how best to achieve wolf restoration, it is plainly obvious from the best available science that natural recolonization will not result in a viable wolf population inhabiting western Colorado from dispersing wolves from the north.
The only certain way to restore the wolf to western Colorado is by following the model that was used successfully in Yellowstone National Park: reintroduce up to 15 wolves every years for 2 to 5 years in areas where elk and deer are abundant. That level of intensive wolf management is a certain way to restore the howl of the wolf, the great voice to our western wildlands.
Benefits make more productive staff
Many small-business owners disagree with your recent editorial labeling two bills under consideration by the Colorado General Assembly this year as being anti-business and a threat to good jobs. In reality, the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act and Colorado Secure Choice Savings Plan would be great for small firms and their employees.
The act would establish a state-administered paid family and medical leave insurance program, funded entirely by modest employee contributions, that would provide workers with up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a family member.
The Small Business Majority's scientific opinion polling found the majority of small businesses nationwide support paid family and medical leave insurance programs set up at the state level and funded entirely by employee contributions, that would provide employees with a portion of their wages for a limited number of weeks.
Entrepreneurs also back Secure Choice, which would establish a public-private partnership to allow private-sector employees to contribute to an individual retirement savings account through modest payroll deductions.
Small-business owners believe offering benefits like these makes for a happier and more productive staff, which in turn leads to increased productivity. These programs would help more small employers offer these benefits at no added cost to their business. Both should be approved by Colorado lawmakers.