Colorado Fishing License Fees Could Double



It’s the same old story. Management takes a hit to the pocketbook, while the workers in the field scramble to make due with not much.

In Colorado, that scenario has been playing out since 2009, when sweeping budget cuts forced managers at Colorado Parks and Wildlife to trim tens of millions of dollars and tender a pile of pink slips.

Now in order to counter the shortfall and source cash for maintaining more than 10,000 acres of prime fishing and hunting habitat—as well as state-run hatcheries, conservation projects, and invasive aquatic species inspections—the division has been busy pitching a new fork-it-over agenda. And this summer they hit the road with a Funding the Future series of 18 meetings to gauge public support for doubling the cost of in-state hunting and fishing licenses.

According to The Denver Post, the division, which receives no taxpayer money, and counts on license fees to pocket more than 60 percent of its annual $151 million budget, has been crumbling on its dam and fisheries maintenance commitments.

With continued cuts, division analysts say the budget will go $20 million in the red by 2023. Even more troubling, the pit could crater to $30+ million “if hunters and anglers want more access, improved habitat, increased conservation and healthier wildlife populations.”

The catch, of course, is that most Colorado anglers do want all of the above, and they’ll likely feel the pinch at the local fly shop if/when annual resident fishing fees jump by 100 percent.

Painful? Kinda. But ultimately worth it? Yes. As for alternatives, we’re listening…

“A lot of states are looking to broaden their source of funding,” Ron Regan told DP. Regan is the executive director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which this summer helped craft the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

The act would direct $1.3 billion in revenue from energy and mineral development toward state fish and wildlife conservation. If federal lawmakers pass it, Regan added, Colorado’s wildlife management budget would grow by “tens of millions.”



  1. David Leinweber on

    Fishing and hunting is a major part of a 13 billion dollar outdoor recreation industry here in Colorado. As population growth pushes more demand for access and quality experiences our state needs to provide the best management possible to protect our outdoor resources. Because of tabor concerns fishing and hunting license have not had any increases in several years. Currently our state is more than half the cost of other state licenses. This is long overdue and fully support by most businesses that sell licenses.

  2. Gregory Walck on

    It is time for Colorado to raise out-of-state fishing license fees. I pay a lot more for licenses when I fish in other states. For example, WY $92/year non-resident. CO $56/year non-resident. Colorado is a headwater state with lots of great fishing. Quit giving it away.

  3. Or….. They could increase State Park fees. That would be a lesser impact but impact more people.

    The Parks were in trouble before the merger.

  4. Colorado has fairly inexpensive out of state licenses, but to large of a jump in price will create negative press and turn some customers away. Pennsylvania has actually undertaken some testing to see how license sales are affected by pricing after they have noted some declines in sales potentially related to fee hikes. A happy medium needs to be found. Less license sales translates to major reductions in related sales. Personally, for such a major part of Colorado economy, I find it a bit ludicrous that Colorado Parks and Wildlife do not get any supplement from taxes. Those license sales are a direct indicator of the amount of restaurant business, hotel rooms, and retail sales all generating tax dollars. Giving some of these government divisions the opportunity to work as successful businesses, under government support will also help them be more successful. Better patrol and heavier fines for poaching, littering, and other negative activities could provide extra revenue to support that patrol division. We all know that its no coincidence that police give out more speeding tickets at the end of the month to make budgets. If use of a public activity is increasing, so should the staff and support of the division regulating that use. Let’s support them in more ways that raising license fees.

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