Published Jan. 25, 2001, in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, “Lifetime license lends legitimacy to non-native. Wyoming lifetime licenses and conservation stamps also help non-game species prosper.”
2015 Update: We eventually bought resident lifetime fishing licenses and conservation stamps for our sons. Current information for these and other lifetime licenses (small game and game bird) is available at http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/hunting-1000144.aspx. Non-residents are allowed to purchase the lifetime conservation stamp, which is required for all licenses.
By Barb Gorges
I wish I could be a Wyoming native, but some things I just can’t help—such as where my mother was when I was born.
I can’t even claim any Wyoming ancestors because mine decided to establish a Midwestern dairy farm instead of a Wyoming cattle ranch.
Sometimes it seems that to lobby state legislators effectively I should have a Wyoming surname of several generations’ standing. So, how can I prove that Wyoming is where I want to be?
Perhaps I should pin on a list of places I’ve worked or lived: Crook County, Rock Springs, Bitter Creek, Flaming Gorge, a gravel pit west of Green River, Laramie and Casper–besides Cheyenne.
Buying property or financially investing locally won’t impress the natives as any sign of permanence as both are reversible.
But last week I put my money into, and my signature on, two irreversible Wyoming investments: a life-time Wyoming fishing license and a life-time Wyoming conservation stamp.
Available to anyone who has endured Wyoming for at least 10 years, they are economically sensible.
To be honest, though, my annual fishing licenses have not been economical. Last year, for instance, I caught a total of six nice kokanee—in 30 minutes the last week in December at Granite Reservoir.
Being ready to throw a line when the fishing’s hot is part of the cost of being married to a fisherman.
My lifetime fishing license will pay for itself in about 16 years–or less if fees go up. If I move out of state (heaven forbid!) I won’t have to buy an expensive nonresident license.
The conservation stamp, is required in addition to any kind of annual Wyoming hunting or fishing license. Now that the annual fee is up to $10, the lifetime version will pay for itself in 7 1/2 years.
The real benefit in my mind is that presumably lifetime fees are being invested by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to benefit wildlife.
Whatever benefits game species probably will benefit non-game animals. Like birds. (You were wondering how this discussion would relate to birds, weren’t you?)
I visited with Kathy Frank from Game and Fish, and she said this is how things break down:
Lifetime fishing license fees are placed in a special fund invested by the state treasurer. Each year, interest goes to Game and Fish general operations to help even out financial ups and downs. The department otherwise is dependent on annual license fees and is not funded by the state government.
General operations such as law enforcement, education and habitat management directly affect game and non-game species. The Game and Fish staff even includes a non-game bird biologist.
The lifetime conservation stamp fees go into the department’s Wildlife Trust Fund, established just a few years ago. In addition to the fees, the $14 million principal incorporates the former Conservation Fund and income from Game and Fish products like T-shirts.
The trust fund generates around $1 million a year in interest, which is directed to funding two kinds of grants.
Wildlife Worth the Watching grants totaling $100,000 or more each year fund programs that improve people’s appreciation of wildlife. Past grants have paid for projects all over the state such as installing interpretive signs and building nature trails.
The remainder of the interest goes to all kinds of habitat improvement projects.
For you recent immigrants and non-residents, investing in the annual fishing license or any of the other kinds of licenses means you are also investing in the work of the Game and Fish. Part of the annual conservation stamp fee goes to improving hunting and fishing access as well.
Of course, you can always make a direct donation. If it’s more than $1,000, Kathy said, it can be directed to a grant for a particular project.
You can invest in a conservation stamp without buying a hunting or fishing license. People who enjoy non-consumptive uses of wildlife—for instance, drinking in the view of an elk rather than consuming it—don’t pay fees for the privilege otherwise.
The conservation stamp is the perfect way to put your money where you put your camera lens or binoculars.
Meanwhile, I’m wondering just how I can casually flash my new permanent-plastic-lifetime-fishing-license-with-conservation-stamp while leaving messages on the Voter Hotline for my state legislators when I call about wildlife bills.
Perhaps I can figure out how to use it as a name tag next time I visit the Capitol.