Each senior citizen's purchase of a discounted senior fishing license will bring the state an additional $7.90 of federal money, starting April 1, 2008, as the result of a bill signed by Gov. Mitch Daniels.
The funding gained will go toward sport fish restoration programs, and expanding and maintaining public access to lakes and streams throughout the state.
With the change, state residents 64 and older (born after March 31, 1943), must buy either a $3 senior license each year (lower than any neighboring state's fee), or a one-time $17 Fish for Life senior license to be able to fish in public waters. The $17 fee is the same price that 64-year old anglers currently pay for their yearly license; however, the Fish for Life license would be the last fishing license they would ever need to purchase in Indiana.
Indiana anglers age 65 or older born before April 1, 1943, will be exempt from having to buy either of the two discounted senior licenses. "Governor Daniels, the General Assembly and our organized sportsmen's groups really stepped up to help make this happen and we owe them our thanks," said Rob Carter, DNR director.
In other words, no senior who currently fishes public waters at no charge would be affected by the new law, except by reaping benefits gained from use of the additional federal funding.
Approximately 5,460 Hoosier anglers, age 64, bought a 2006 Indiana fishing license. If the same number were to buy a senior license in 2008, the state would gain $43,000 from the federal government. In 10 years, the total would swell to $2.3 million.
The federal program is funded by excise taxes on fishing equipment and boat fuel. These funds are distributed to states based in part on the number of licensed anglers in the state. Since Indiana senior citizens did not purchase licenses before the change, they could not be counted as licenses sold, so a portion of the money gained from the excise tax charged to Hoosiers on equipment such as rods, reels, lures and boat fuel was distributed to other states.
DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife statistics show that last year there were approximately 90,000 Indiana seniors fishing in the state.
The DNR maintains more than 350 fishing sites, but many lakes and streams still lack public access. Additional funds are needed to purchase lands from willing sellers, and to construct boat ramps, parking lots, entrance roads and ADA-accessible facilities. In addition, increased funding is needed for maintenance projects at these access sites, including the periodic rebuilding of worn-out ramps.
The DNR operates eight fish hatcheries that provide more than 20 million fish of 15 different species for stocking in public waters each year. The two newest hatcheries are 20 years old. Others date back to early in the last century. As these facilities age, repair costs mount. Without reinvestment made possible by the new legislation, these hatcheries would not be able to adequately supply tomorrow's anglers.
SPRING MILL SEEKS VENDORS
1800s-style talent and vendors sought Spring Mill State Park will host an 1800s-period music and crafts show, July 14-15.
The park is soliciting applications from artisan-vendors to exhibit and sell their crafts during that weekend. All applications will be reviewed by park personnel. Only those who sell hand-made items appropriate to some point during the 1800s will be approved.
Musicians and music groups who are willing to volunteer their time are also sought to fill one-or two-hour time blocks during the weekend. Both indoor and outdoor spaces in the park's Pioneer Village are available. Musical styles, and, whenever possible, music selections, should be appropriate to some point during the 1800s. If interested in doing so, musicians may collect donations from the public with prior approval from the state park.
Artisan-vendors and musicians interested should call the Nature Center, (812) 849-4129.