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1/24/2006 HB 6/aHGUAC
SHORT TITLE Department of Game and Fish Appropriation Act
APPROPRIATION (dollars in thousands)
or Non-Rec
General Fund
Federal Funds
Game Protection
(Parenthesis ( ) Indicate Expenditure Decreases)
Duplicates Appropriation in the General Appropriation Act, Section 4 for the Department of
Game and Fish
Report of the Legislative Finance Committee to the Forty-Seventh Legislature, Second Session,
January 2006 for Fiscal Year 2006-2007, Volume II, pp. 189 – 195.
Responses Received From
Department of Game and Fish (DGF)
Synopsis of GUAC Amendment
House Government and Urban Affairs Committee amendment to HB6 amends the legislation to
reflect adoption of the executive budget recommendation as follows:
General Fund FY07 appropriation:
$181.9, with no additional general fund impact.
Federal Funds FY07 appropriation: $11,175.3, an increase of $109.6.
Gaming Protection Fund FY07 appropriation: $22,442.9, and increase of $823.1.
Additionally, the amendment adds 1 FTE to the sport hunting and fishing program, bringing the
House Bill 6/aHGUAC – Page
agency’s total authorized compliment to 300.5 FTE.
Synopsis of Original Bill
House Bill 6 appropriates $32,867.4 from the general fund, game protection fund and federal
funds to the Department of Game and Fish (DGF) for its FY07 operating budget. The bill reflects
the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) budget recommendation for the agency and includes
performance measures and targets.
The LFC recommendation includes $181.9 in general fund,
in federal funds, and
$21,619.8 from the game protection fund.
The LFC recommends an overall reduction of approximately 2 percent with no increase in gen-
eral fund, and assumes an overall vacancy rate of 3 percent.
The LFC recommendation recognizes agency performance and performance exceptions, Ac-
cordingly, the LFC budget recommendation funds agency operations at levels which support per-
formance goals and objectives
The LFC recommendation reflects $288.3 in the federal funds in the program support (admini-
stration) program, rather than the $228.3 as contained in the bill. All subtotals and totals should
be corrected accordingly.
As detailed in the FY07 LFC budget recommendation, with the exception of a minimal portion
of general fund support, the agency is fully funded from fees, penalties, income from depart-
ment-owned property, and federal revenues.
Revenue to the game protection fund is generated from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses,
special hunt fees, income from property owned by the department, and interest on balances in the
fund. One dollar of each hunting and fishing license fee is reserved for capital projects approved
by the State Game Commission. Other revenues are received from the purchase of a habitat
stamp required to hunt and fish on federal property, the annual auction of one permit to hunt
Rocky Mountain or desert bighorn sheep, federal funds from federal excise taxes, and depreda-
tion fees assessed with each license to capitalize the big game depredation fund. These revenues
are administered though six dedicated special revenue funds: the Sikes Act (habitat improvement
stamp); share with wildlife; bighorn sheep enhancement; deer enhancement; elk enhancement;
and big game depredation damage. Most recently, the Legislature in 2005 authorized the estab-
lishment of two additional special revenue funds: habitat management and Gould's turkey en-
hancement. General fund appropriations, while small, have augmented game protection fund
House Bill 6/aHGUAC – Page
revenue in carrying out the Conservation Services Division’s responsibilities for public educa-
tion and the conservation of nongame wildlife species.
All funds received are deposited into the game protection fund, which serves as the agency's
bank account. Income to the fund is nonexistent between the months of October and April, re-
quiring the department to maintain a minimum of $6 million in the fund at all times to make cer-
tain the agency is able to operate over this period of time. Since FY01, the game protection fund
has provided over $21.5 million to complete several capital projects, including $5.38 million in
new projects appropriated during the 2005 session. Projects recently financed by game protection
fund appropriations include the construction of the warm water hatchery at Santa Rosa, purchase
of Eagle Nest Lake, construction at Red River hatchery, Eagle Nest dam repair, clean up at the
Terrero Mine site, and engineering and construction costs associated with work on dams and
spillways owned by the State Game Commission.
In 2004 the agency projected the fund would be depleted by FY07, without requiring a license
fee increase, which was approved by the Legislature in 2005. At current sales levels, the changes
proposed in this bill are projected to generate an additional $4.5 million in annual license sales
revenue for the department and will allow the agency to continue operating at current levels.
However, even with increased revenue from license fees, the game protection fund cannot con-
tinue to finance nonrecurring costs and sustain services at current levels over the long term.
Additionally, the department is positioned to begin budgeting some $250 thousand of habitat
management fund revenue that should begin accruing with the 2006-2007 license year. This
revenue will be generated through an annual $3 habitat management stamp that each hunter, an-
gler or Gaining Access Into Nature (GAIN) project permit holder will be required to purchase
and is anticipated to generate between $750 thousand and $900 thousand annually.
The department received a 2005 capital appropriation of $4 million from the general fund for the
acquisition of property and habitat improvement and is presently coordinating this initiative with
the state departments of Agriculture and Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources. Initial plan-
ning efforts are being directed to four general areas: natural land protection, wildlife protection,
working farm and ranch conservation, and local government related activities. Additionally, a
2005 capital appropriation of $4.3 million from the game protection fund was made for dam re-
pairs at Lake Roberts, the warm water hatchery at Santa Rosa, and archery ranges. However, the
2005 capital appropriation required the appropriation to be generated from fee increases, thus
decreasing the level of funds available to sustain operations. It may not be prudent to utilize the
fund for additional capital outlay projects. The department continues to work to address staffing
issues, and the agency has made substantial progress in addressing vacancies among conserva-
tion officers. The agency’s expansion request of eight conservation officers was approved during
the last session.
Depredation complaints remain a concern, as both complaints and resources dedicated to resolv-
ing them continually increase. The department recently received State Game Commission ap-
proval to make significant changes to the process used to allocate elk hunting opportunity on pri-
vate land. Defining a clear objective of the previous landowner signup system (LOSS) proved
troublesome in recent years, as landowners chose to reject offers of physical measures to resolve
depredation issues and instead demanded additional tags while at the same time demanding fi-
nancial compensation for damage to property. The new private land use system (PLUS) makes a
clear distinction between allocation of hunting opportunity and actions taken to resolve damage
House Bill 6/aHGUAC – Page
complaints. The PLUS system requires landowners to select one option, either to participate and
benefit from elk management or to work with the agency to resolve damage problems, but not
both. The commission also changed the requirements regarding distribution of hunting opportu-
nities on private land to make the process more equitable and to develop a system centered on
private lands’ contribution to the continued well-being of the state’s wildlife resources.