Monday, March 30, 2009

Proposed position cuts at Fish and Wildlife - call to action

Vermont Sportsmen - your calls, emails and letters urgently needed to legislators. The Governor has proposed cutting 6 positions at the Fish and Wildlife Dept. on top of positions (like my old HE training coordinator slot) that are already gone. Legislators need to hear from you - if we don't stand up for wildlife - who will?
Don't wait - they will be voting very soon.
Following is what I wrote to my Lamoille Co reps:

Dear Representative (Senator),
I'm writing to urge you to oppose the Governor's proposed cuts in positions at The Fish and Wildlife Department. I understand the need to save general fund money during these tough times. However, there is no savings to be had with the proposed cuts in fish and wildlife. I know you are well aware that fish and wildlife is serious business in Vermont. Sportsmen and conservationists need a strong partner with the state. Even without these possible cuts nearly 3 million federal dollars have been left unclaimed in the last few years due to under staffing.
Of these 6 targeted positions, only one relies on general fund money for 25% ($17,500) of the total cost of the position. The remaining five positions have been 100% funded through federal monies and hunting/fishing license sales. The Department currently has adequate federal/license dollars to support all of these positions, including retirement and future health care costs. In fact, it will actually cost the general fund $18,000.00 more dollars to cut these positions than it would to keep them. (see attachment for more details)
I know you need to find ways to save state money or find new money. It does not mean going along with a Governor who appears to be playing politics with employee numbers, which in this case do not save money, but will cost money. I suggest temporarily cutting the general fund allotment to Fish and Wildlife rather than cutting positions. Better
yet would be a slight increase in the sales tax of 1/8th of 1-cent dedicated to the Fish and Wildlife Department as advocated by the VT Wildlife Partnership. This additional money could be then leveraged for millions of federal wildlife dollars.
Thanks for listening,


  1. Last week the house appropriations committee recommended mothballing all the hatcheries (see link):

    This would result in losing over $17 million the hatchery fish contribute to the economy (and I pretty sure that is a very conservative number, particularly since Lake Champlain salmonid program depends almost entirely on hatcheries and this only represents stocked fish contributions). The hatcheries budget is $3 million. $2 million is federal, $1 million is license dollars. They could take the $1 million at most. By taking all the hatchery budget we would be laying off 25 people. We would lose the Roxbury hatchery (the deed has a provision if we stop rearing fish there, the facility reverts to the heirs) and the fish health lab will have to close. We would lose the fishing programs created by hatchery fish, the children fishing events (Kids' Brook Program), the visitation generated by the hatcheries (15 to 20,000 annually) and the fish health program that protects the state from the introduction of fish pathogens (e.g. VHS).

    Also on the block is all of the Warden overtime funds. A partial cut could be manageable but a complete cut is just stupid. Renegotiate the terms for overtime, but don't cut it out. It is bad for the warden and the resource.

    If you haven't called your legislator do it now.
    Click on the following for a directory of legislators

  2. From the feed back I'm getting the Dems get it, some GOP's like Vince Illuzi also. In general Republicans support hunters. It is time for them to stand up to the Gov and let him know that they do not support cuts that hurt hunting and fishing and don't save the state's general fund any money!
    Time to get on the phone and let your local senator know where you stand and where you want them to stand. Moose and trout are counting on us to make the call - let's not let them down...

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