fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

why I’ll voluntarily send cash to Sacramento

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I know I shouldn’t have been surprised, but after thinking about it the last two weeks, I still am.

Many, if not most, of California’s 210,200 full-time government employees were ordered six months ago to take three furlough days a month. Blame whatever feel-good program or pork barrel project you want for the not-so Golden State’s $63.9 billion in general obligation debt. Standard & Poor lopped the state’s credit rating to A-minus this afternoon. And Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is working to cobble together a state budget that relies on a 15% reduction in state personnel costs through a 5% reduction in salaries and a reduction in workforce…

It’s always good to see a contraction of an already bloated government — but in this mess it doesn’t make sense to not extend the Bay-Delta Sport Fishing Enhancement Stamp (BDSFES) program.

As of January 1, 2010, the Bay Delta Stamp is no longer required for anglers in the Delta. Money collected in past years will still be used to fund projects benefitting sport fishing within the Delta boundaries.

The Bay-Delta Sport Fishing Enhancement Stamp (BDSFES) Program was established in 2004 to benefit Bay-Delta sport fisheries. Exhisting law requires a person to first obtain a BDSFES before sport fishing in the tidal waters of the San Francisco Bay Delta and the mainstem of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, including major tributaries, below the most downstream dam.

The BDSFES Program has authority to spend approximately $1 million a year on projects that benefit sport fish populations, sport fishing opportunities, and anglers within the stamp’s geographic range. The Department of Fish and Game solicits proejcts for funding annually through the Proposal Solicitation Notice process. The BDSFES Program has funded a wide range of projects including warden overtime for sturgeon poaching, salmon acclimation, sturgeon forensics, fishing access facility improvements, salmon spawning habitat restoration, salmon escapement monitoring, angler surveys, fish tagging programs, and more.

Sure, it saves me $6.30. And yes, the program was set to expire Jan. 1, 2010.

But as I understand it, it was one of the few fees deposited into a separate account within the Fish and Game Preservation Fund. I’m all for money going straight to the DFG and wildlife programs as long as that money can’t be siphoned off to the general fund.

I’d honestly become so accustomed to the BDSFES fee that I accepted it as part of the cost of enjoying the hobby of fly fishing in my state. And who thinks $1 million a year will go very far towards projects benefiting fish in the San Francisco Bay Delta and the mainstem of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and major tributaries? It’s a bit disturbing to spend so little, particularly at a time when those in power ponder pulling more freshwater out of the delta.

As for me, I’ll still be sending an extra fin Sacramento way this year. Voluntarily. To the California Fish and Game Warden Stamp program.

I was already expecting to spend the money anyhow. Here’s hoping fellow California anglers will think the same.

Even with the 30 cent increase in the basic sport fishing license fee, I’ll still be $1.00 ahead of the game.

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