Merger of fish, game commissions possible
By Bob Frye
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania legislature may once again explore the idea of merging the Game and Fish and Boat commissions.
Forty-nine states manage fish and wildlife under the auspices of one agency. Pennsylvania is the lone exception.
But state Rep. Martin Causer, the Potter County Republican who chairs the House game and fisheries committee, said Tuesday he wants the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study a merger.
He made that announcement at the close of a hearing about the Fish and Boat Commission's annual report, where executive director John Arway outlined financial challenges — not of its own making — facing the agency.
Those money troubles, which are behind plans to close two trout hatcheries, one in his district, are one reason a merger might be appropriate, Causer said.
“I think the thing to do at a time when we're all looking so hard at budgets is to see if it makes sense to consolidate government agencies,” Causer said.
A combined commission would continue to operate independently, he said. But it might be more efficient, he added.
The idea of even studying a merger is not a done deal. The full House of Representatives must authorize it. But Causer said he's optimistic that will happen in time for a study to be completed by year's end.
Arway was quick to say the Fish and Boat Commission views a merger as a “bad idea.”
“We think the independent form of government we've got with two commissions has worked very well over a long period of time,” he said.
Game Commission spokesman Joe Neville said staff at that agency would have to have “some long, hard discussions before commenting in depth” on the idea. But the Game Commission, which doesn't have the same financial problems as Fish and Boat right now, isn't interested in a merger per se, he said.
“I have no doubt that our senior management staff has the talent and expertise to assimilate (Fish and Boat Commission) operations into ours. An equal merger assumes the Game Commission gets responsibility for Fish and Boat's issues and problems but does not have complete authority to address those issues since they would be shared,” Neville said.
The legislature studied the idea of a merger twice before, most recently in 2003. A report issued then said that a merger of the two commissions was “clearly feasible” and would save money. But it also said that a bigger issue was the need to find new revenue sources for fish and wildlife programs.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Big trout key to Yough River stocking effort
- Kids turning attention to archery in record numbers
- Frye: Many challenges for deer hunting
- Outdoors notebook: Fish commissioner pushing promotion of carp fishing
- Pa. Fish and Boat Commission criticized for losing focus
- Frye: Questions remain for Allegheny River walleye
- Outdoors notices: March 8
- Outdoors notices: March 9