Possible Fee Increases May Spell Trouble For Fishermen

For the first time in seven years, Texans may have to ante up more money to enjoy the great outdoors. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is considering a fee increase for the first of September.

Under the proposal, Texas' Super Combo license will increase ten dollars, from 49 to 59 dollars. Resident hunting and fishing licenses would go up four dollars, and boat registration would also be ten dollars more expensive. However, licenses for youths and seniors will not increase.

Bob Sinclair, a sporting goods salesman for Wal-Mart, sells thousands of licenses every year.

"Generally when there's a price increase in license," Bob explains, "there is a drop in license sales that first year, but it more than makes up for it in the second or third year."

The first increase since 1996 would be used to keep the department running, not for any new programs, and it certainly has people talking. Robert Ellis of Jacksonville doesn't mind.

"Considering the services provided and the number of lakes the Parks and Wildlife service has to take care of in Texas, I think we're getting a great deal. Ten dollars doesn't bother me at all."

However, Larry Hammack doesn't want this situation to become a habit.

"They get into this situation where they're moving the money up and then they lose money in the long term because people drop out of doing the sport of fishing or hunting either one, it gets too high."

"Everybody kind of has heartburn about the prices going up," Game Warden Chris Green says, "But it's amazing when you think about it, what all you can do in the state of Texas for a resident hunting license."

While the fees would rise no more than ten dollars, for lifelong fishermen like Bob, the license is more important than just a couple of bucks.

"The sunrise, the sunset, the fall leaves, and so on. You must have a license in order to access that. So as I've gotten older, actually acquiring the fish or the game is not as important as getting out there and enjoying the outdoors."

   Reid Kerr (rkerr@kltv.com) reporting.