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Through the Lens

House Bill 3750 Proposes Free Licenses for Law Enforcement

Fri, April 21, 2017

 

HB 3750 introduced recently by Rep. Katie Stuart (D) of the 112th district amends the Fish and Aquatic Life Code and the Wildlife Code and provides that the respective fees for resident fishing, combination sportsmen, and hunting licenses are waived for current and retired State, municipal, and local law enforcement officers.

What’s to argue with there? It shows strong support for our law enforcement officers, both current and retired. It’s an action and a piece of legislation that feels all warm and fuzzy. It feels good. In an era when law enforcement seems to be constantly coming under the gun from a multitude of directions, it certainly sends the message that someone cares about them. It’s not a surprise that the bill passed out of committee in late March. On the surface it seems like a great andgenerous thing to do.

BUT – and it’s a big BUT – what’s the fiscal implication of this feel good, warm and fuzzy piece of proposed legislation.

At a time when DNR is facing so many budgetary constraints, does it really make sense to pull more from that very budget?
It really does not seem prudent to even consider this potential loss of funds – as evidenced by the fiscal note filed by DNR.

“Loss of both license sale revenue (hunting/fishing) and federal reimbursement funding totals approximately $96,095 annually. This estimate does not include the annual impact by retired officers. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Fisheries divisions DO NOT receive General Revenue Funds from the State of Illinois. Revenue for conservation work, aquatic habitat enhancement, fish stocking and research is generated by the sale of licenses, stamps, permits and other fees. Eroding the pool of funds available by making hunting and fishing privileges free to certain classes of hunters and anglers would continue to reduce the Department’s capacity .”

The additional Balanced Budget Note filed by the OMB goes into even more detail about the financial implications.

“In total, estimated revenue to the state would be reduced by more than $100,000 annually if House Bill 3750 were to become law due to less revenues in hunting and fishing license sales and federal reimbursement. According to the Department of Natural Resources, the loss of hunting license revenue for active police officers is estimated at $37,000 annually. This includes an estimated $12,000 directly from license revenue, plus $25,000 in federal apportionment funding. Additionally, the Department of Natural Resources estimates the loss of fishing license revenue for active police officers to be $59,095 annually. This includes an estimated $33,450 due to the loss in license revenues plus $25,645 in lost federal apportionment funds. Based on active police officers, the estimated loss in revenue would be $96,095. House Bill 3750 includes waivers for both active and retired officers, however at this time the fiscal impact can only be estimated for active law enforcement officers. As such, the fiscal impact of House Bill 3750 is likely to be greater than the above estimates due to the non-inclusion of retired law enforcement officers in the estimates. According to the Department of Natural Resources, conservation work, aquatic habitat enhancement, fish stocking, and research is funded by the sale of licenses, stamps, permits and other fees. Reducing the pool of funds available by making hunting and fishing privileges free to certain classes of hunters and anglers would reduce the capacity of the Department of Natural Resources to fund these duties and if continued could require reductions in service or general funds to support these functions.”


I get that in the grand scheme of the entire financial mess that is our current reality, these seem like pretty insignificant dollar amounts. After all, what’s a mere 100,000 dollars give or take when DNR has an 800 million maintenance backlog and there are state parks that have ZERO assigned staff?
It may seem insignificant, but those dollars do indeed count. In this fiscal climate EVERY penny counts. Every single penny.

The next issue with this piece of legislation is the precedent it sets – Essentially a certain user group or class of sportsmen is given free privileges.  That opens the door for additional classes or user groups to also seek a waiver of fees. How do we effectively decide who is and isn’t worthy of hunting and fishing for free?

As much as I support the members of our law enforcement ranks, I just can’t get behind this bill. Not when it threatens the financial status of our already cash strapped and struggling DNR.  Heck, even though I don’t HAVE to buy my licenses because I hold a P2 card, I still do, just to contribute to the cause.

It will be interesting to see how this bill progresses or if it the fiscal issues associated with it cause it to die on the vine.

What say you Heartland friends and readers? Is a show of support for our law enforcement officers worth the loss to the DNR coffers?

 

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Gear Review: Field And Stream Women’s Every Hunt Clothing

Mon, April 17, 2017

At the onset of hunting season last fall I was given the opportunity to field test some items from the Field Stream Women’s Every Hunt Line.
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It’s no secret that women are the fastest growing segment of new hunters, but it remains difficult for many women to find adequate hunting attire.

When asked, “What women want in hunting attire?” the answer is short. We want the same things that men want, flexibility, durability, great functionality, and most of all a good fit. The next hurdle women often face is finding affordable gear. It’s hard for many new hunters to plunk down 2-300 dollars for a coat or 150 - 200 dollars for a pair of good pants.  I’ve long wished for a moderately priced yet well-made and functional line of clothes that women just beginning to explore hunting would feel comfortable purchasing. 

The Field and Stream Women’s Every Hunt line of apparel has met those goals – and I might add, without slapping pink all over things!

The items I field tested throughout the entire season were Field and Stream’s Women’s Every Hunt Softshell Pants and the Field & Stream Women’s C3 Midweight Mock Neck Base Layer Shirt The pants have proven to be absolutely the most comfortable pair of hunting pants I have ever worn. They are as comfortable as hunting in a pair of pajama pants! Same with the shirt – comfort is key for me for long days in the field and the shirt makes an excellent addition to anyone’s collection of hunting clothes.

The Field & Stream Women’s C3 Midweight Mock Neck Base Layer Shirt features NOSCENT™ C3 technology with antimicrobial and Zeolite scent control which provides an extra measure of scent control. SMARTWICK™ fabric wicks moisture away from your body for a dry, comfortable feel. The interior of the shirt is a very soft and comfortable almost fleecy like material that kept me warm under just a hoodie on most days. The Thumb holes are an especially welcome addition to keep sleeves from bunching up. This shirt became my winter go to base layer as the season wore on.

The Women’s Every Hunt Softshell pant feature quiet bonded fleece with a 2-way stretch for mobility. They are indeed very giving with mobility, I could bend, stretch, squat, climb and manage to wallow around and get myself in several messes without ever feeling like the pants were binding, too snug, or not forgiving. These pants are indeed very quiet – despite all my thrashing and crashing around in the blind and the brush there were no crinkles and crackles, and extraneous noise from the pants.

The waistband on these pants is somewhat wider than my other hunting pants, and with elastic inserts on the sides provides a snug no gap fit, that expands easily and remains comfortable when adding an extra layer underneath. The wider waistband also makes for a bit wider belt loops, that make easier to add a good sturdy belt. I like to hang things off my belt, and often find pants have too narrow of a waistband and belt loops to accommodate my wider sturdy belt.

I also preferred the elastic inserts in the waist band over those annoying adjustable tabby things that never stay in place, get caught on things , and ultimately fail me every time.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how warm the pants were despite not being at all bulky or heavy. They were not too warm and heavy in the warm early season and during spring turkey hunting weather, yet provided plenty of warmth when paired with a base layer such as Field & Stream Women’s Base Defense Midweight Mock Neck Base Layer Shirt and Leggings during colder days afield. 

The front pockets are deep and large enough to hold a fair number of items without risking loss, including a large smartphone. Not only are the front pockets deep enough to be useful, the openings are cut wide enough it’s not a struggle to get your hand in out.

The additional zippered cargo pockets on the legs also are roomy and afford the added protection of a zippered closing so nothing is at risk of tumbling out.  The back pockets feature a flap closure and are of good useful size as well.

With the bonus of NoScent™ C3 Scent Control Technology to assist in containing and concealing odors and Hydro Repel™ fabric to keep you dry, these pants are a versatile, comfortable, functional item that I can easily give a full five stars.  The only improvement I could think of would be to either add side zippers to legs for ease getting boots on and off, or a drawstring bottom that could be cinched up around the boot to help keep out drafts.

Both pieces performed well with frequent trips through the washer and dryer and after a long busy season in the field nearly every day, still come out of the dryer looking and feeling like new. Big thumbs up for durability!

Field and Stream Women’s Every Hunt Softshell Pants and C3 Midweight Mock Neck Base Layer Shirt have convinced me that now I need be “on the hunt” for one of Every Hunt jackets for a complete combination that truly does work well throughout the varied conditions hunters face from beginning of season until end.  I highly recommend both pieces for the woman who is looking for durable, comfortable, technical and affordable hunting clothing without breaking the bank.

Field and Stream Women’s Every Hunt apparel can be purchased at Dicks Sporting Goods, both online and in retail stores. 

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IDNR Announces Schedule of Waterfowl Blind Site Drawings

Sun, April 09, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Waterfowl hunters are encouraged to mark their calendars for upcoming waterfowl hunting blind site random drawings to be held at several public hunting areas in Illinois in June, July and August.

Duck and goose hunters must register in person for waterfowl blind site drawings and must be present at the drawing – held at each location designated below immediately after the registration period – to claim their blind sites.  Mail-in registrations are not accepted.  Unless otherwise stated, blind allocations for these sites are good for one year.

To participate in a drawing, all applicants must present a 2016 or 2017 regular Illinois hunting license (no apprentice or youth license), a 2016 or 2017 Illinois Migratory Waterfowl Stamp at the time they register, unless exempted by law, and valid photo identification. Applicants must be at least 16 years old by the date of the drawing.

Applicants needing to purchase new licenses and stamps should do so prior to the drawing.  Most blind drawing locations will not have license sales available.  Licenses and stamps are available at any DNR Direct license and permit vendor, through the IDNR website at http://www.dnr.illinois.gov or by, calling 1-888-6-PERMIT (1-888-673-7648).

Registrants are no longer required to possess a valid Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card from the Illinois State Police to participate in blind drawings. Also, in order to be an eligible applicant for the drawing, the participant must not have his or her hunting privileges suspended or revoked by the IDNR or any other jurisdiction at the time of the drawing.  Out-of-state residents must have a 2016 or 2017 non-resident hunting license for Illinois and a 2016 or 2017 Illinois Migratory Waterfowl Stamp. 

Note:  The photo ID requirement for all applicants is a new rule for this year’s drawings.

The schedule for 2017 blind drawings is listed below:

SUNDAY, JUNE 4, 2017 (Blinds allocated for three years)

• Horseshoe Lake State Park, Madison County: Picnic shelters 1 and 2 located near the site main entrance.

• Mississippi River SFWA – Batchtown and nearby Mississippi River blinds: Batchtown Ball Diamond, in Batchtown.

• Mississippi River SFWA – Calhoun Point and Illinois River Blinds: Brussels Community Park, by school and ball diamond in Brussels.

• Mississippi River SFWA – Fuller Lake: Brussels Community Park, by school and ball diamond in Brussels.

• Mississippi River SFWA – Glades/12 Mile Island: Alton Wood River Sportsmen Club, 3109 Godfrey Rd., Godfrey, IL

• Mississippi River SFWA – Godar/Diamond: Calhoun County Fairgrounds, North of Hardin on RT. 100.

• Mississippi River SFWA – Helmbold Slough: Brussels Community Park, by school and ball diamond in Brussels.

• Mississippi River SFWA – Piasa Island: Alton Wood River Sportsmen Club, 3109 Godfrey Rd., Godfrey, IL

• Mississippi River SFWA – Red’s Landing: Calhoun County Fairgrounds, North of Hardin on RT. 100.

• Mississippi River SFWA – Rip Rap Landing: Calhoun County Fairgrounds, North of Hardin on RT. 100.

• Mississippi River SFWA – Stump Lake: Alton Wood River Sportsmen Club, 3109 Godfrey Rd., Godfrey, IL


SUNDAY, JULY 16, 2017 (Blinds allocated for two years)

• Mississippi River Pool 21 and Pool 22: registration 10 a.m. - noon at the Twin Oaks Sportsman’s Club, 2707 Bonansinga Dr., Quincy. 

• Mississippi River Pool 24 registration 10 a.m. - noon at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Office, Route 106 West, Pittsfield.


SATURDAY, JULY 29, 2017 (Blinds allocated for one year)

• Chain O’ Lakes State Park and Redwing Slough/Deer Lake State Natural Area, Lake County: registration for both sites 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at Oak Point day use area, 1/5 mile east of the Fox River on the south side of Illinois Route 173. Hunters will be allowed to register for only one of the two sites.

• Des Plaines State Fish and Wildlife Area, Will County:  registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the site office, two miles northwest of Wilmington off exit 241 on Interstate 55.

• Kankakee River State Park and Momence Wetlands, Kankakee and Will Counties: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. for both sites at the Kankakee River State Park office, five miles northwest of Bourbonnais on Illinois Route 102.  Hunters will be allowed to register for only one of the two sites.

• Mazonia State Fish and Wildlife Area, Grundy County:  registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the site office just off Illinois Route 53, two miles southeast of Braceville.

• Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area, DeKalb County:  registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the park office.  Directions - go 2½ miles south of Shabbona on Shabbona Road, turn east on Shabbona Grove Road and go ½ mile (office is on left side of the road).

• Sinnissippi Lake, Whiteside County: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at Harry Oppold Marina, on Stouffer Road on the east edge of Sterling.

• William Powers State Recreation Area, Cook County: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the boat launch, 126th St. and Ave. 0, Chicago.


SUNDAY, JULY 30, 2017 (Blinds allocated for one year)

• Anderson Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, Fulton County: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the area check station, 13½ miles southwest of Havana on Illinois Route 100.

• Clear Lake, Mason County:  registration 10a.m. - 2 p.m. at Sand Ridge State Forest Headquarters, 25799E CTY RD.  2300N, Forest City.  Phone (309) 597-2212.  Follow the signs from Manito or Forest City.

• Lake DePue State Fish and Wildlife Area, Bureau County: registration
10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at Oak Grove Park, ¾ miles west of DePue on Illinois Route 29.

• Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area including the Sparland Unit, Marshall County: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the area check station, five miles south of Lacon on Illinois Route 26.

• Meredosia Lake in Morgan and Cass Counties (allocated for 2 years):  registration 12 noon - 2 p.m. at the Jim Edgar Panther Creek Hunter Check-In Building (located adjacent to the JEPC site office, approximately 7 miles southeast of Chandlerville), 10149 County Highway 11, Chandlerville, IL 62627.

• Rice Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, Fulton County:  registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the area check station, three miles south of Banner on Route 24.

• Sanganois State Fish and Wildlife Area, Cass and Mason Counties: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. On the east side of the maintenance building, two miles north of Chandlerville on Illinois Route 78 (follow the signs to Sanganois).

• Spring Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area and Pekin Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, Tazewell County: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the south park office area, two miles north of Manito on County Rd. 16 (Manito Rd.) and eight miles west and south on Spring Lake Rd.

• Starved Rock State Park, LaSalle County: registration 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. at the Point Shelter day use area on Illinois Route 71, about four miles east of Illinois Route 178 or 5½ miles west of Illinois Route 23 in South Ottawa.

• Woodford State Fish and Wildlife Area, Woodford County: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the area check station, 5½ miles north of Spring Bay on Illinois Route 26.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 5, 2017 (Blinds allocated for two years)

• Mississippi River Pool 16: Registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at Loud Thunder Forest Preserve, 19408 Loud Thunder Rd., Illinois City.

• Mississippi River Pool 17: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at New Boston City Park.

• Mississippi River Pool 18: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at Delabar State Park, two miles north of Oquawka.


Additional hunting information and maps on the above sites can be accessed at the link below.
https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/FactSheets/Pages/default.aspx

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