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HB 122 – Funding Public Access

 

Below you’ll find the breakdown of HB 122 by The Wyoming Wildlife Federation. I’m not going to attempt to reiterate what WWF has done a marvelous job doing but I am going to opine on HB 122.

 

Personally, I think a bill like this is long overdue! Who wouldn’t pay $21 for a Conservation Stamp if it means more public access to hunting, fishing and trapping here in old Wyo? Not to mention that a portion of the $21 will also go to improving the health of our game animals by improving/implementing highway crossings. This is truly a chance for Wyoming sportsmen to continue to put their money where their mouths are by ponying up for wildlife and the future of hunting in the Cowboy State. 

 

I say pass HB 122 and I’d like to thank Representative Western for sponsoring this. 

 

HB 122: Reliable Funding For Hunting & Fishing Access  

Overview By The Wyoming Wildlife Federation 

HB 122 creates an account and allocates money from the sale of Conservation Stamps toward accessing private and  landlocked public land with landowner-driven voluntary participation. The Conservation Stamp would increase to $21.  What the Bill Does: 

  • Increases the price of the Wyoming Conservation Stamp from $12.50 to $21. 

o Earmarks $9 of the $21 to be put into a specific fund within WGFD 

  • Creates an account within the WGFD for the extra funding called Game and Fish Fund 

o 85% of the account is earmarked for use in gaining access to difficult to access or inaccessible federal,  state, and state trust land for the purposes of hunting and fishing – through programmatic and  administrative work. 

o 15% of the account funds will be used annually and are earmarked for use in wildlife crossing work o Anticipated annual revenue increase is $1,665,270 

  • The bill takes a broad approach to give WGFD the flexibility to use funds for administrative and programmatic work directly affecting hunting and fishing access – like the AccessYES! program 
  • Requires the WGFD commission notify the appropriate boards of county commissioners before purchasing any  access easements or entering into any agreements. – Does NOT give county commissioners blanket ability to  cancel the deal. 
  • Also requires the WGFD commission to hold a public meeting IF requested by any board of county  commissioners. – Does NOT give county commissioners blanket ability to cancel the deal. 
  • Requires the WGFD commission to present an annual report of funds and work to the legislature – a standard  ask. 
  • Is VOLUNTARY for landowners- AccessYES! offers fiscal incentives to landowners for access and hunting  privileges, it does NOT require access or participation. – This bill makes it possible to offer real incentives to  landowners and gives the WGFD the ability to grow the AccessYES! team. 

Why it’s Needed: 

The bill will enable WGFD to incentivize landowners to participate in programs like AccessYES! and provide Game and  Fish with funding for administrative costs associated with gaining access and creating agreements with VOLUNTARY  landowners. This will provide an avenue to open up access to federal, state, and state trust land, for hunters and anglers  in parts of the state where it can be difficult, and provide landowners with fair compensation for allowing access on their  property 

Sponsor: Rep. Cyrus Western | Co-sponsors: Rep. Clausen, Rep. Lloyd Larsen, Sen. Baldwin 

From Rep. Western: 

Why is this bill important? What problem does this solve?  

  • “Public land access is a major issue in the West, and it’s especially severe here in Wyoming. This bill is a major  step forward in helping the hunting public get more access to high quality public land while simultaneously  respecting private property rights. “ 

How does it solve it? 

“WGFD already has the ‘arrows in the quiver’ to negotiate access agreements with landowners, but they’re  severely underfunded. This bill raises the price of a conservation and uses those proceeds to fund AccessYES  programs such as Walk In Areas and Hunter Management Areas.”

About Todd Helms

Todd Helms

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5 comments

  1. Hmm? Head scratcher ? Sounds like it makes sense at face value. Always underlying aspects people don’t see unless u read entire Bill. But then again like Nancy says “we need to pass it so we can read it” ! Amazing how much the volume of wildlife legislation is ramping up. Getting a lot hands in the cookie jar !

  2. Arthur G. Friesz

    As I have understood so far what I have read it sounds like a great idea. It speaks to protecting wild game, also creates more hunting opportunities. Unfortunately none of these ideas are free. As for animal crossings, there is a great number of hunters that would contribute time and energy to help with the construction, which would help keep the costs down.

  3. I hope your law works better than the Heritage Law in AZ. It was a voter approved initiative that provided funding for state parks and open spaces. During the recession a dozen years ago, the state legislature raided those funds and the Supreme Court in AZ said they could do it. In 2019 a law was signed reinstating the fund but provided no funds until 2029 at the earliest. I hope your funds can be protected from the legislature since ours could not be. The same lawmakers who wanted federal lands transferred to the state so they could be sold. The citizens turned that land grab down at the ballot box.

  4. But they then they want to turn around and change another law to limit non-residents from 20% to 10% of tags “for the benefit of our residents”. So why do you want me to pay $20 instead of $12.50???!!!

  5. I don’t know that I believe the access YES account will grow by an additional $1,665,270. If you are one of those who annually contributes to the access YES when purchasing a license, then what’s your incentive to voluntarily continue donating when you would now be required to contribute $9.00 via the conservation stamp. The funding will likely go up but not to the extent stated.

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