MAYFLOWER, Ark. – It could be getting more expensive for hunters and anglers to practice their sport in Arkansas.
A new bill introduced in the state senate would up to double the cost of resident hunting and fishing licenses as well as other stamps and fees, a move forwarded by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission that must be approved by lawmakers.
The jump in price has a reason behind it – the price hasn’t been increased for decades, and the money would go to AGFC property to update aging infrastructure.
Fishermen at Lake Conway were split on the proposal. Families and sportsmen flocked to the area to enjoy Saturday’s sunny weather, and many shared their thoughts on the potential increase.
Trenton Rivers doesn’t necessarily think it’s a bad idea. “I think the fees in Arkansas are pretty reasonable,” he said, and compared the prices to other states he’s been to. He says in relation to places like Tennessee, the fees in Arkansas are manageable and still will be even if doubled.
The prices have been where they’re at for some time. The last pay bump came 37 years ago for fishing at a cost of $10.50, and 31 years ago for hunting at $25.
Keith Stephens, chief communications manager with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission says it’s time for a change. “We haven’t raised the fishing license since 1984,” Stephens said. “It hasn’t kept up with inflation.”
The extra funds from the license increase would then head to projects like renovating the Lake Conway dam and maintaining other AGFC properties in need of a refresh.
But some anglers say they don’t agree with a price jump.
“Yeah, I think it’s absolutely stupid,” said Al Ratliff, a longtime fishing fan.
He says he understands wanting to net a few extra dollars for improvements, but he worries that too much of a jump could scare people off from buying a license altogether.
“They need money to operate things, I can understand that,” Ratliff said. “But to go crazy with it is wrong.” But according to the Commission, “crazy” isn’t the goal.
Stephens points out that the increase is capped at double the current cost, and the final boost may not be that big of a jump.
“It’s not any more than that,” he said, “and that’s not the top end of this.”
Right now, the measure is in the senate agriculture committee.