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Ill. hunting, fishing fees to increase
Associated Press
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Published: 12/30/2009 3:08 PM

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QUINCY -- Illinois will have higher fees on hunting and fishing licenses in 2010.

While nobody looks forward to higher costs, Don Marold, Quincy area chairman of Ducks Unlimited, was willing to look on the positive side.

"If they keep the money in that area of government, it's probably a good thing," Marold said.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has suffered through several years of funding shortages. Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich allowed John Filan, his budget director, to divert hundreds of thousands of dollars from the DNR to fill funding shortfalls in other departments. As a result, parks and outdoor facilities got fewer employees and less money for needed projects.

Greater funding cannot come too soon for some of the parks in Western Illinois. Jim Assell, supervisor at Siloam Springs State Park in eastern Adams County, and Don Herren, the assistant supervisor, are the only two workers at a site that once had eight DNR staff members.

Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, was the chief Senate sponsor of SB 1846, which set the higher fees. Sullivan said lots of conservation groups and hunting organizations were contacted and supported the hikes as long as the money went back into conservation programs.

"The DNR has seen a drop in revenues to a point where services in the parks have been in jeopardy. We hope this will make the agency more self-sufficient ... and it passed with big majorities" in the Legislature, Sullivan said.

The cost of a resident fishing license will climb to $14.50 from $12.50. Deer permits, which have sold for $15 each in recent years, will now sell for $25. Small game permits will go to $12, up from $7.

The fee increases are forecast to bring in an additional $3 million a year.

Stacey Solano, communications manager for the DNR, said there has been "no determination" on a proposal by Gov. Pat Quinn that fees of perhaps $5 might be charged for each vehicle entering state parks. Quinn's plan was not part of SB 1846, but was seen by the governor as an additional way of pumping funds into DNR sites.