The following is an email received from Charles Charlesworth, president, Pennsylvania Council of PATU. This is a very important issue and a critical time and your help is needed. Charles has given a sample letter / comments below for you to send but please use your own words and do not copy and paste his example.
The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) is an independent agency supported by license and registration fees for anglers and boaters. Raising these fees requires action by the General Assembly, which has not approved an increase in 12 years. As a result, the PFBC has had to cut staff and defer maintenance. Last year, the commission cleared the way for more severe cuts.
Efforts to fix this problem have languished, and instead, Harrisburg is trying to interfere with the Commission’s independence by imposing a term limit on the executive director. This would effectively force PFBC to select a new leader immediately.
Please reach out to the members of the House Game & Fisheries Committee and tell them why interfering in the operation of this independent commission is a bad idea:
(1) It upends the tried-and-true process by which Commissioners decide when it is time for fresh leadership.
(2) It distracts from the main issue at hand, which is the need to put the PFBC on sound financial footing so it can do the critical work of protecting and enhancing our fisheries.
Visit this page to find out which House Game & Fisheries Committee members represent volunteers in your Trout Unlimited chapter.
I would suggest using the follow sample comments in your messages or conversations:
Dear Rep. [name]:
I’m writing as a longtime angler to relay my concerns about the independence and financial stability of the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.
For years, officials have worked unsuccessfully to address financial issues plaguing the agency. It has been 12 years since the Commission was able to raise its fees. Rising costs have forced it to defer routine maintenance, cut staff, and consider reducing services to the fishing and boating community.
But efforts to solve that problem have been shelved, and instead a movement is afoot in the Statehouse to interfere with agency independence and force a change in PFBC leadership by, for example, setting a term limit for the executive director.
This is the wrong approach. The PFBC is an independent agency funded largely by fees from anglers and boaters, and as current state regulations allow, the Commissioners should decide who leads it. This is a tried-and-true arrangement that helps Pennsylvania recruit sound candidates and keep them accountable, and ensures that the agency is focused on what’s best for our fisheries and waterways.
I urge you to work with your colleagues to move the PFBC closer to a stable balance sheet and back to the job of protecting our streams and fisheries. Sportsmen like me are willing to pay a little more in fees, because we know first-hand how much the agency does to protect and enhance the state’s economically valuable fisheries.
As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions.
Charles Charlesworth, president, Pennsylvania Council of PATU