New state budget includes enhancements for anglers, hunters

The new state budget for 2014-15 just passed this week by the legislature and signed by the governor includes some money to help hunters and anglers.

Here are some of the items in the budget:

** $4 Million for New York State Hatcheries and Continued Efforts to Stock NY’s Waterways. The money will be used to address critical infrastructure repair needs in the state’s fish hatchery system.

Specifically, DEC will make repairs to hatcheries, including boiler replacements at Chautauqua Hatchery in Western New York and Oneida Hatchery in the Mohawk Valley, and rearing pond (raceway) repairs at several DEC hatcheries. Building repair and improvement projects are also in the works for Caledonia Hatchery in the Finger Lakes, which will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2014.

In addition, DEC plans to purchase 16 new fish stocking trucks with fish life support systems that are essential for the safe delivery of stocked fish.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) operates 12 fish hatcheries in New York and plans to stock more than 2.3 million catchable-size brook, brown and rainbow trout in more than 309 lakes and ponds and roughly 2,900 miles of streams across the state this spring.

A list of all waters scheduled to be stocked this spring can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30465.html.

** Reduced Price Fishing Licenses, Free Fishing Promotions. Fees will be reduced for seven-day fishing licenses, from $31 to $28 for non-residents and $13 to $12 for residents. There also will be an increase in the number of authorized statewide free fishing days to eight from two and authorization for DEC to offer 10 days of promotional prices for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses.

These reduced prices build upon efforts last year, which saw successfully streamlined fishing and hunting licenses, reduced fees, and made fishing licenses valid for one year from the date of purchase.

** $6 Million for Access to Fishing and Other Recreational Opportunities will allow for 50 new access projects involving 380,000 acres for fishing, hunting, hiking, canoeing, bird watching and other forms of recreational activities throughout the state.

The vast majority of these new access sites will provide new or improved access to fishing opportunities, with new trails to fishing sites, fishing platforms, boat launches, improved signage, and new and improved parking.

** Expanded Adventure License Offers involves discounted Adventure Plates to existing lifetime fishing licenses holders and access to the plates to annual license holders.

Anglers, both new and existing license holders, will now be able to choose from licenses plates featuring trout, striped bass and walleye: http://licensecenter.ny.gov.

** Boating and Fishing Access Upgrades Underway at facilities on Forge Pond in Suffolk County, the Mohawk River in Schenectady County, Great Sacandaga Lake in Saratoga County and Lower Saranac Lake in Franklin County.

New access projects to be completed in 2014 include a new boat launch on Round Lake in Saratoga County and installation of a fishing pier on Green Lake in Greene County. The state has invested more than $2.8 million on boat launch improvements during the past three years.

Other enhancements for sportsmen include:

** Authorization of crossbow hunting, except on Long Island and Westchester County, for hunters 14 years of age or older for small game, and for big game throughout firearms seasons and during portions of archery season

** Debut of Lifetime Empire Passport, which offers visitors to state parks the option of paying a one-time fee to experience all that New York Parks have to offer throughout their lifetime

** Launched new Adventure Licenses to holders of lifetime hunting, fishing and trapping licenses, as well Parks’ Lifetime Empire Passport and NY Safe Boating certificates, whereby a person can consolidate his or her paper licenses onto one document

** Streamlined access to sporting licenses at http://licensecenter.ny.gov to easily purchase and print fishing licenses online from a home computer. License holders also can order new Adventure Licenses and Adventure plates from the website.

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