Oregon Pot Sales to Benefit Wildlife?

Paying for wildlife programs with money from marijuana sales is just one of several creative ideas an Oregon task force is high on.

The Funding for Fish, Wildlife and Related Outdoor Recreation and Education Task Force is charged with coming up with new ways to pay for the state’s outdoor programs. 

Continuing to simply jack up fees for hunting and fishing licenses is proving counterproductive – fewer people buy as prices go up. 

Oregon is also looking for ways to get money out of people who enjoy the outdoors but don’t hunt and fish – hikers, birdwatchers, nudists, trail bikers etc. So using pot revenues following their recent legalization measure is just one of the ways.

In addition to tapping into weed funds, here are a few examples of their original thinking, based on an article at OregonLive.com:

  • Taxing birdseed and binoculars (take that birders).
  • Taxing cat food (the somewhat hazy logic behind this has to do with penalizing people who let their cats roam outdoors).
  • Taxing birth certificates, real estate transactions, airport boarding and lube oil charges (there must be an outdoor connection somewhere).
  • Taxing some items related to the outdoors – ATV’s, studded tires, bug spray, bottled water.
  • Taxing all outdoor recreational equipment (okay at least the outdoor connection is clear here).
  • Putting a surcharge on everyone’s state taxes – except that those who had already purchased a hunting or fishing license would be exempt.

Not quite so original is creating a new wildlife license plate (been done a lot of other places, why not Oregon?). Tapping State Lottery Funds isn’t particularly new either (get in line).

Some of the funds would be designated for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, others would go the Department of State Parks.

Oregon is just one of many states which are experiencing a decrease in the number of hunters and anglers – a trend which many blame on ever increasing license, tag and permit fees.  Forty years ago California sold 608,000 hunting licenses.  Last year it sold only 272,000 even though the state’s population has swollen to 39 million.  The handwriting is on the wall.

Still, kudos to Oregon for looking for ways to spread the financial burden among all outdoor recreation lovers, even if the burden does shift to — recreational marijuana users.

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