Frye: Game, Fish and Boat commissions merger takes a hit
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Is anyone surprised, really?
The General Assembly spent about $100,000 of taxpayer money to examine the pros and cons of merging the Pennsylvania Game and Fish and Boat commissions. It was the third such study done in the past 20 years.
It's looking like the latest examination was, as some suspected, as much a political ploy as the first two.
The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee released its merger study report March 19. It said such a move could bring about $5 million in savings annually.
That was reiterated this past week.
Patricia Berger, chief counsel for the committee, told lawmakers at a meeting of the House of Representatives game and fisheries committee in Harrisburg that combining the agencies wouldn't necessarily bring about a financial windfall.
“Although the management of these (natural) resources by a single entity is certainly feasible, the combined expenditure per license of both the Fish and Boat Commission and the Game Commission is already lower than the average of other states, suggesting there may be limited opportunities for significant savings,” Berger said.
We can debate whether $4.8 million is “significant.” But it appears this merger idea never had a chance, and lawmakers knew it.
Several were quoted here and elsewhere as far back as March saying there wasn't much chance of a deal getting done. The political will doesn't exist, they said.
Nothing seems to have changed since.
One of the handful of lawmakers to attend this past week's game and fisheries committee meeting was Rep. David Maloney, a Berks County Republican.
He's been as tough as anyone in recent years on the Game and Fish and Boat commissions, often charging that they've lost their connection to sportsmen over deer management and fish stockings, among other things. He was at it again this past week, saying both agencies have caused a lot of controversy by “straying from their missions.”
Frustration resulting from all that is what led to the merger study being done, he said.
Specifically, the inability of lawmakers to convince the agencies to change direction is what “creates the push to look at other options.”
Still, Maloney said he doesn't support a merger, in part, because no one's asked sportsmen what they think.
Rep. Gary Haluska, a Cambria County Democrat and one of the few other lawmakers to attend and stay until it was over, said he opposes a merger, too, fearing that any cost savings would be more than offset by a diminished “product” for hunters and anglers.
In fact, no one except Potter County Republican Martin Causer — who chairs the committee and sponsored the merger study — said he supported it.
He promised the committee will continue to study the idea. But even he conceded that changing anything will be difficult.
“Anybody who works in this building for any significant period of time knows that change occurs very slowly here,” Causer said.
Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.
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.
- Frye: Antlers worth another look
- Outdoors notebook: Game Commission will publish 2 books
- Outdoors notices: Sept. 15, 2014
- Profits have illegal trafficking in fish, wildlife on the rise
- Outdoors notices: Sept. 14, 2014
- Dove hunters want proof of harm caused by lead before switching ammo
- Allegheny, Ohio rivers, Acme Dam producing fish
- It’s a question of quail versus pheasants
- Frye: List of elk draw winners