DNREC’s proposed fees now go to lawmakers

DOVER β€” After the Advisory Council on Wildlife and Freshwater Fish approved new entrance fees for wildlife areas and hunting costs last week, the proposed changes now will go to the General Assembly.

Most of the changes presented by the Division of Fish & Wildlife were approved without alteration, but the entrance fee schedule was revamped. Instead of annual and three-day passes with separate prices for residents and non-residents, there would instead be individual passes for one day, seven days and one year, as well as an annual group pass.

The one-day pass would cost $3.50, the seven-day $12.50, the individual yearlong $20 (the same as the proposed annual resident pass) and the group yearlong $200.

A hunting license would increase in cost from $25 to $39.50 for Delawareans and $130 to $199.50 for out-of-staters. Deer tags, waterfowl permits and trapping licenses also would cost more.

Permits for deer blinds and licenses for junior hunters would be unchanged.

People also could enter with a hunting license instead of having to buy a pass.

Wildlife, or conservation, areas are located in 20 spots across the state and are currently free to enter. They are a common spot for birdwatchers, photographers and hikers.

The changes would help counteract declining hunting revenue and allow the state to restore some services, Fish & Wildlife Director Dave Saveikis said last month.

β€œIt would more evenly distribute the cost of managing and maintaining these public wildlife areas amongst all the users of these areas,” he said.

The proposal now will go through the General Assembly, where it requires a three-fifths vote to pass.

During budget proceedings last year, some Republicans seemed disinclined to approve higher fees from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. Planned hunting increases were rejected by the public at the end of 2014.

A DNREC spokesman declined to comment on when the changes will be introduced as legislation.
For a full list of the proposed increases, visit the DNREC website.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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