Taxing water, a doe tag snafu averted, more

Posted on: August 12, 2016 | Bob Frye | Comments

French Creek 1Bob Frye / Tribune-Review
Anglers use Pennsylvania’s water without removing any of it. They may benefit from a proposed tax on those who do.

A roundup of outdoor news…

For a while now, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission executive director John Arway has been pushing state lawmakers to charge businesses who pull water from Pennsylvania lakes and rivers a fee for using that resource.

Some are on board.

Lancaster County Democrat Michael Sturla is sponsor of House Bill 2114. Introduced in June, it would exempt water drawn for residential and agricultural use. Industry, though, would pay one one-hundreth of a cent per gallon. That would generate $375 million a year in new tax revenue, Sturla said in a memo to lawmakers.

Of that, $180 million a year would go to pay the debt on a Growing Greener III bond initiative used to find water-related projects ranging from stream buffers and fencing to wastewater treatment plant upgrades. The other $195 million a year would go to water-related programs and agencies in the state budget, he wrote.

The Fish and Boat Commission would get $5 million annually, Arway said. It would be allowed to use it for a broad range of water-related projects.

“So there are really no strings to the language in this bill,” he said.

Sturla’s bill has been referred to the consumer affairs committee.

Meanwhile, also introduced by Rep. Garth Everett, a Lycoming County Republican, is a resolution asking the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study “the establishment, implementation and administration” of fees for the use of water by industrial and commercial users.

Doe tags
It was something Pennsylvania Game Commissioners were worried about.

The vendor who handles hunting license sales increased the cost per transaction – passed on to hunters – by 20 cents this year. Costs of a doe tag, for example, went from $6.70 to $6.90.

Hunters buying a license online or in a store would notice the change immediately.

The fear was that those applying for doe tags by mail would send in checks for the wrong amount.

The commission didn’t want county treasurers to reject applications for being 20 cents short, said Dot Derr, director of its bureau of administrative services. It reached out to them to say it would cover any shortages this year, she said. A few county treasurers said they’d eat any mistakes on their own, she added.

That’s apparently all worked out. The commission has received no complaints from hunters, Derr said.

Trapping ban
Montana? Really?

The state in the once wild west – where the fur trade was an economic force — is considering whether to ban all trapping on public land.

The Montana secretary of state recently approved Initiative 177 for the November ballot. Voters will decide the issue.

Sportsmen’s groups have assailed the proposal, saying it will severely damage efforts to control wolf and coyote numbers, causing harm to wildlife including elk and antelope, as well as livestock such as sheep and cattle. They’ve united to form a group known as Montanan’s for Wildlife and Public Lands Access.

Five other states already have trapping bans in place: Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Washington.

Veterans hunt
Game Commissioners made permanent an opportunity for disabled veterans.

The move gives the executive director authority to designate one day per year at the Pymatuning and Middle Creek wildlife management areas as open only to disabled veterans. It will allow them and up to three hunting partners to shoot waterfowl.

Participants will be chosen via random drawing. Applications can be found in the hunting digest.

Pymatuning will host a hunt this season. Middle Creek will at some point in the future, when accessible blinds are built.

Bob Frye is the everybodyadventures.com editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or bfrye@535mediallc.com. See other stories, blogs, videos and more at everybodyadventures.com.

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Bob Frye is a storyteller with a passion for all things outdoors. He hunts, he fishes, he hikes, he camps, he paddles, backpacks and snowshoes depending on the season. If he’s not an expert at anything, it’s because he’s passionate to try a little bit of everything.