Decision to tap F&G habitat fund explained
In order to receive state general fund money, the department had to first look within its own funds to address shortfalls, said Executive Director Glenn Normandeau.
The decision to use $140,000 from the Habitat, Game Management and Fisheries Habitat Accounts recently drew protests from sportsmen and organizations across the state.
The department lost 15 positions in the current budget, and he said using the dedicated habitat funds was a way to retain three positions the agency needs.
The work they do is federally reimbursed, he said, so that money will now go into the habitat funds instead of the fish and game fund, which pays for general department operations.
He noted the controversy over the use of the habitat funds came because the N.H. Fish and Game Commission had to approve it, which it did in August.
Commission Chairman Tom Hubert of Newport said there has not been significant opposition to the use of the habitat funds once people understand the funds are not being robbed, noting fish and game departments around the country are facing similar situations.
The arrangement for paying the biologists ends with the biennial budget June 30, 2015, so the department is exploring other ways to raise revenues, such as a $5 fee on hunting and fishing licenses and charges for a conservation decal.
The commission will be reconstituted and meet again in January.
He said there is no readily available nugget to fund the department's operations, but noted the need to expand its revenue stream beyond just hunters and fishermen is apparent.
Normandeau said he assumes in the future there will be other sources of money for the department, or lawmakers will have to decide what the department will not do in the future.
The department had 212 employees and is now down to 178, but its responsibilities have not changed, Hubert noted.
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