8 May 2014
Ohio Statehouse, Senate Finance Committee
Today, alongside Adam Wright & Tony Celebrezze (USSA), Larry Mitchell (LOOS), Dan Schneider & Roger Burns (PF), Vicki Mountz, and DOW Chief Scott Zody, I spent the morning at the state house prepared to give proponent testimony supporting DOW’s proposed increase to Non-Resident Hunting Licenses and the creation of a Non-Resident Deer permit. While I have given opponent testimony on the House side before, I had never given proponent testimony or presented before a senate committee. As we learned today, unlike a house hearing where one can walk-in, sign-in, and present, it takes pre-registration with the Committee chair’s office at least 24 hours in advance. You learn something new everyday! I was able to submit a written copy of the testimony below for the record.
To: The Honorable Senator Scott Oelslager, Chair, Ohio Senate Finance Committee, MBR Appropriations – 2nd Hearing – Proponent
From: Ohio Conservation Federation
Re: Support for Proposed Increase to Non-Resident Hunting Fees (HB 483)
Ohio’s reputation for trophy-class white-tailed deer hunting has the Buckeye State regarded nationally as a Top Ten deer-hunting destination, annually selling 38,000 hunting licenses and 41,000 deer permits to non-residents. Long considered an undervalued state when it comes to charging non-residents to hunt whitetails, the Ohio Conservation Federation’s membership, including the Buckeye Firearms Association, Ducks Unlimited, Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, National Wildlife Federation, Ohio State Trappers Association, and Pheasants Forever, supports the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ proposed modest, non-punitive fee increase for non-residents, with revenues intended to take fullest advantage of available Pittman-Robertson (P-R) Funding.
The proposed increase from $149 to $250 for a Non-Resident hunting license plus a Non-Resident either sex deer permit would move Ohio from 35th to 17th nationally in costs to hunt deer. Even with the proposed increase, Ohio remains an attractive destination, well below the average of the Top Ten deer-hunting states ($400). As part of ODNR’s commitment to increase youth participation in outdoor recreation, the proposed increase does not include a change to the price of licenses for non-resident youth.
Conservatively, even in the unlikely event of a 10-20% decrease in non-resident hunters, revenue is expected to increase by an estimated $3-3.5 million. The funds from the fee increase will help the Division of Wildlife (DOW) meet the 25% state match requirements, ensuring that we are better able to leverage increasing P-R funding. The additional funds will help the DOW maintain current service levels to both resident and non-resident hunters, anglers and trappers as well as attract new potential customers by improving recruitment, retention and re-activation of sportsmen and women.
Currently, the DOW is in the design phase of a multi-year grant to relocate the Delaware Shooting Range, a fully eligible P-R project with an estimated $5 million total budget ($3.8m P-R share). While there are also plans to improve and develop shooting and archery ranges across the state, a wide variety of other critical projects exist including habitat maintenance & restoration, wildlife research, survey & inventory, facilities operation & development, and hunter education. In each of these cases, timing and success are dependent upon the availability of cash to match. The fee increase proposed in the MBR legislation HB 483 is critical to DOW’s ability to successfully carry out these projects in a timely manner. To the benefit of Ohio’s outdoor heritage, its resident sportsmen and women, and non-resident guests, OCF urges the Ohio Senate to ensure the non-resident license fee increases remain intact in HB 483.