The incoming director of Michigan's reorganized natural resources agency says he wants to reverse a steady decline in the number of people who hunt and fish in the state.
Gov.-elect Ruck Snyder has named Rodney Stokes as director of the Department of Natural Resources. The incoming Republican governor is dividing the old Department of Natural Resources and Environment into two agencies. Dan Wyant will head the new Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality.
Stokes told The Detroit News he wants to do something about the slow but continuing drop in the number of people buying fishing and hunting licenses in Michigan.
He said he wants to expand the focus of the department's recruitment efforts beyond young people and encourage adults to take their neighbors hunting or fishing.
Stokes also said he has no plan to increase license fees, set in 1996.
"Not right now," he said.
Revenues from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses were $45.3 million in the most recent budget, said Sharon Schafer, the department's assistant division chief for administration and finance. That's down from 2005 when adjusted for inflation.
Dave Nyberg, Michigan United Conservation Clubs' legislative affairs manager, said the group supports fee increases because "we have a problem with long-term sustainable funding for management of our natural resources."
Nyberg said the agency also can do better in the way it deals with the public.
"Quite frankly, the department has a lot of work to do on their customer service," Nyberg said.