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A voluntary youth fishing license is now available

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In an effort to raise money to fund youth fishing programs, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has approved voluntary youth licenses that will cost $1.

“This responds to the fact that the perception of children and young adults ages 6-15 who fished in Pennsylvania in 2010 was only 24 percent, as compared to 37 percent in 2005 and 41 percent in 1995. We want to continue to refine and develop programs to engage kids,” said John Arway, PFBC Executive Director.

In a prepared press release, Arway says that a youth license also provides an added benefit when it comes to federal funding, which accounts for approximately $5 in federal revenue from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Act program that provides funds to states based on a formula that includes the number of licenses a state sells.

The release indicates that a 2011 survey showed there was 367,000 children and youth adults ages 6-15 that fished in Pennsylvania in 2010.

Arway goes on to say, “I want to emphasize that this is purely a voluntary youth license, and it is not required for kids to fish. If just 25 percent of those 367,000 children were to purchase a voluntary $1 license, it would result in more than $550,000 in revenue for the Commission to invest in youth programs.”

The program will run as follows: Once a youth license is purchased or a youth license voucher is redeemed, the individual will be assigned a unique customer identification number (CID).

The ID, according to the PF&BC, allows the Commission to analyze license purchasing patterns and trends, tailor messages and programs and correspond directly with customers.

The voluntary license has been available since Feb. 1 from all licensing agents and online through the PF&BCs Outdoor Shop. With a $1 agent fee and 70-cent transaction fee, the license will cost $2.70.
And for youths who participate in the upcoming Mentored Youth Fishing Days Mar. 22 and April 5, they are required to either buy a voluntary license or obtain a free mentored youth fishing permit.

When the idea of a youth fishing license was run by Bob Danenhower of Bob’s Wildlife Taxidermy, who was a Boy Scout leader, is co-director of the Lehigh Valley Hunting and Fishing Extravaganza that caters to youths, and the father of two boys, Danenhower says that the voluntary license is a good idea provided it remains mandatory.

“Many of the sportsmen I know would not blink an eye at purchasing one, as long as the PF&BC targets youth education and gets kids out fishing. Many of us would rather see a fishing rod in the hands of a child rather than an iPod or Smartphone,” Danenhower opines.

“But they must keep in mind not every family is doing well financially and the economy can be tough on some. I would like to see sportsman sponsors a youth license and give them out to kids. A program like this could be huge,” said Danenhower.

He goes on to say that when his boys were young he would make up a fake fishing license to put on their backs. “It would make them feel important and taught them responsibility. I had to drive back home on one occasion when one son forgot his.”

Funny, but I had the same situation when I was a kid. I would wear my uncle’s previous years expired fishing license button on my hat, “to feel like a real fisherman.”

In other PF&BC news, the Commission voted at their last meeting to seek public comment on a proposal to remove the option seniors 65 and older currently have to purchase a lifetime trout/salmon permit in conjunction with the purchase of a $50 senior resident lifetime fishing license.

Under the proposal, seniors who want to fish for trout would have to purchase a permit each year beginning January 1, 2015. However, seniors who purchase a lifetime trout/salmon permit in conjunction with a lifetime license before that date would be grandfathered. The PF&BC says they expect to generate about $300,000 in added revenue by the fifth year, money they sorely need.

In this respect, Arway says, “About 70 percent of seniors purchase a trout/salmon permit. The Commission’s trout program accounts for 36 percent of the Fish Fund annual expenditures and the cost of trout production continues to rise. We simply can no longer afford to allow anglers to fish for trout without paying for the annual permit.”

Let’s face it, seniors make up a good majority on streams during inseason trout stockings, mainly because they are retired and have the time to fish. So this proposal makes sense, as it’s not a fishing license fee increase.

And if you’re interested in voting for a color of the new fishing license badges that are coming back in vogue, go to the PF&BCs website and vote.

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