Hunting, fishing fee hike on table

TRAVERSE CITY (AP) – Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday proposed hiking some of Michigan’s hunting and fishing license fees to raise money for outdoor recreation and wildlife conservation programs.

The fees are included in the Republican governor’s proposed budget and would be the first significant increases since 1997, officials with the Department of Natural Resources said. Snyder also requested more money for the DNR from the general fund, the state’s primary checkbook.

If the funding package is approved by the Legislature, it would provide more than $28 million in new revenue, enabling the department to hire 41 additional conservation officers and improve parks, waterway, trails and habitat for fish and game.

DNR Director Keith Creagh said the proposal is fitting considering the role outdoor recreation plays in supporting the state’s economic recovery.

“Michigan doesn’t have to take a back seat to anybody on world-class resources,” he said, adding that the plan was devised in consultation with sporting groups that understand the need for more money. The license fees’ purchasing power has eroded 45 percent since the last general increase, officials said.

The Michigan United Conservation Clubs, which represents hundreds of outdoor groups, released a statement that stopped short of endorsing the increases but praised the Snyder administration for providing more information about how revenue generated from license fees is used.