USA. Enforcement and the California's Outdoors Community

Wednesday, 06 January 2016

At last month's meeting of the California Fish and Game Commission, David Bess gave the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) Enforcement Division report.  David is the Chief of Enforcement for California and normally his report entails the latest work the state's game wardens are doing from public interactions to some serious investigations that they undertake.  

As Chief, David has a very good perspective on what transpires from top to bottom.  This past presentation differed from the usual in that instead of highlighting Enforcement's front line work, Chief Bess was reflective and presented an overview of what an important role the outdoors hunting and fishing community play and how important they are to the DFW.  It was refreshing and informative.  

Sportsmen play not only a major conservation role in exercising responsible care of California's natural resources, but importantly also provide the lion's share of external funding necessary to manage those resources.   Chief Bess pointed out that beyond license and permit fees paid to the DFW that federal taxes are collected on hunting and fishing gear along with those on boater's motor fuels.  He noted that although federal taxes head to DC, a major portion is sent directly back here to California's DFW.  

In the past, I have counted up fishing related dollars and with all categories included came up with over 80 million bucks a year.  Quite a healthy sum.  Hunting and boating also come to the table and with the recent huge increase in gun sales the overall number is now considerable.  Doing a little more homework showed that between the US Department of Fish and Wildlife numbers and California DFW figures this year's grand total came to an astounding $132,757,092.   Note that a decrease in California hunting and fishing license sales represents the greatest threat to this income.

Commander Bess does a great job leading Enforcement and understands the value of working with the outdoors community.  It was clear that his missive was not endorsing the usual, brashly stated economic centric arguments coming out of the outdoors trade associations, but a sincere recognition that hunters and fishers not only provide a strong conservation presence in the field, but in doing so also provide an essential piece of the funding necessary for resource management and enforcement.  

His recognition of the importance of this funding did not imply a demand for those contributing the most dollars to write the rules, but more a timely reminder to some folks eager to change established, vetted management methods of the potential consequences not only on the ground, but also at the bank.  

My hat is off to Chief Bess for all of his visionary work. 

Tight Lines,

Tom Raftican

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 06 January 2016 )