Conservation groups ask to be charged like sportsmen |

Conservation groups ask to be charged like sportsmen

Conservation groups asked lawmakers Saturday to create a system allowing them to be charged for using Nevada’s wildlife management areas.

Kyle Davis of the Nevada Conservation League told the Assembly Ways and Means Committee Saturday the $5 annual fee would enable non-hunters to participate in supporting those areas.

He said sportsmen who hold hunting, fishing and trapping licenses currently pay for nearly all the management costs of those resources.

“The point is, it’s a new group of people who understand the use of Nevada’s wildlife resources,” Davis said. “We want to be able to step up and help with the management of it. The idea is that other groups that enjoy these areas want to be able to step up and help with the cost.”

Assembly Bill 503 would create a mechanism to let Nevadans voluntarily pay a share of wildlife management costs. The fee for non-residents would be $10.

Deputy Wildlife Director Patrick Cates said wildlife’s best estimate is the program could generate up to $420,000 a year to help cover management costs in wildlife management areas around the state. He said the division is neutral on the bill because he wasn’t certain how Gov. Brian Sandoval would react to the proposal since it does include a fee increase.

The legislation also was supported by the Sierra Club and other northern and southern conservation groups.

Assemblyman David Bobzien, D-Reno, said the proposal is similar to how the Paiute Tribe runs its operations at Pyramid Lake, charging fishermen a license fee but also charging non-fishermen a day use fee.

He said Oregon and Washington state also have similar programs where people pay a day use fee at a kiosk as they enter a park.

But Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, said he was concerned that a family of four or five pulling into a park to have a picnic could be all fined $5 apiece for not having a permit with them. He said he would rather that family not have to pay to use a picnic area “than build a fire in the brush to avoid paying the 25 bucks.”

Davis and Cates said they would work with Goicoechea on language to prevent those kinds of situations from happening.

Was and Means Chairwoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, agreed the goal is “to make sure we don’t end up making it a burden on someone.”

The committee took no action on the bill.