Merger would mean misdirected funds |

Merger would mean misdirected funds

Dear Editor:The governor’s plan to merge the Division of Wildlife with the Division of State Parks and Outdoor Recreation is notable for its intent to bring increased efficiencies to the management of Colorado’s wildlands and wildlife, but the likely minimal (if any) cost savings will almost surely result in a reallocation of hunter’s and angler’s funds to prop up state parks and other recreation activities.The Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) largely doesn’t get money from the state’s general fund, drawing instead from lottery funds, federal excise tax revenue and, mostly, license fees paid by hunters and anglers. The Division gets about two-thirds of its $110 million budget from hunting and fishing licenses. CDOW Director Tom Remington says hunting and fishing support thousands of jobs statewide and that wildlife-based recreation ranks with skiing for driving Colorado tourism. The Division of Wildlife has led the way in generating income, especially from big game revenue, to a magnitude that has enabled the Division to become one of the premier wildlife agencies in the world. The approximately $18-20 million the state receives each year in federal excise taxes collected on the sale of hunting and fishing equipment in Colorado must not be jeopardized through the “diversion” of wildlife cash or conversion of wildlife property to non-wildlife use. If this proposed merger takes place, it’s an almost sure bet that sportsmen’s tax and license dollars will be used to fund operations of state parks beyond wildlife expenditures currently made by the Division of Wildlife. We hunters and anglers have paid our bills, and we want to see those funds we pay into CDOW go for fish and wildlife.David Lien Co-chair, Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers