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Opinion: Illinois needs a fish management fund

May 14, 2012 at 04:14 PM

The Illinois Division of Fisheries needs a fish management fund.

It will take a bold vision and statue change to create sustainable funding for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Fisheries and maintain great fishing for those who foot the bill… Illinois anglers.

• Fishing in Illinois generates $3.7 Billion per year for the State’s economy…but the Division of Fisheries is on the brink of extinction.  Why?  As general revenue declined the past decade, monies from the Wildlife and Fish Fund (where all angler fees are deposited) have been directed toward DNR programs which had not historically been funded by anglers.  The result?  The Division of Fisheries budget has been slashed year after year after year.

• Staffing levels in the Division of Fisheries have fallen from 146 to 76……and 31 will be lost due to retirements by December 31, 2012.  The remaining staff of 45 (not counting the 9 folks totally funded by a Federal EPA Asian Carp Eradication Grant) will be totally incapable of managing our state fisheries as they have the past three decades.  A 70% cut in staff (45 vs 146) is simply unacceptable when anglers bring in some $15 Million/year (in angler fees and federal Sport Fish Restoration funds) and generate $3.7 Billion/year for the Illinois economy!

• Do you want at least two of the three existing hatcheries to shut down?  Do you want the Urban Fishing Program to cease?  Do you want to go back to the early 1960’s level of District Fishery Biologists and see fishing in your area lakes decline dramatically?  Do you want little or no management on our precious stream and major river fisheries?  Do you want to continue without a dedicated staff to manage Lake Shelbyville, Carlyle, and Rend Lakes?  Is half a loaf, in terms of staff, enough for our precious one million acres of Lake Michigan?  Do you want enforcement of the Fish Code to continue to decline?  Do you want the decision on how angler’s dollars are spent to continue to be made by the Governor’s Office and a political appointee in the DNR?

• If you answered “NO” to any of the above questions, here is what you need to do immediately:

Contact Representative Frank Mautino (e-mail:patti76th@ivnet.com phone:  217-782-0140) and politely inform him that you want his DNR Sustainability Bill (soon to be introduced in the House) to include wording to establish a special fund, The Fish Management Fund (Expenditures from which may only be authorized by the fisheries division chief), to insure that monies from Fishing License Sales and Sport Fish Restoration are spent only on what they were intended to do……protect, enhance, and manage Illinois fish and aquatic resources.

Also contact your state legislators (both House and Senate) and give them the same message.  Your local legislators may be found by going towww.elections.il.gov ………….at the top left of the page you may search via either your address or zip code. 
       
     
Your action is needed now as Representative Mautino’s DNR Sustainability Bill will likely be called soon.

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