West Virginia’s state government is in the midst of some belt-tightening, but Division of Natural Resources officials say sportsmen probably won’t notice any change in the agency’s fish- and wildlife-related programs.
“I think we’ll be able to continue with no major impacts being felt by the public,” said Paul Johansen, chief of the DNR’s Wildlife Resources Section.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ordered state agencies to implement an across-the-board 4 percent cut, but Johansen said the cut applies mainly to funding drawn from taxpayers.
“We receive very little of that ‘general revenue’ money,” he explained. “Most of our money comes from ‘special revenue’ sources, such as fees paid for hunting and fishing licenses.”
Only a tiny fraction of the agency’s budget comes from the state’s general-revenue fund. Johansen said the lion’s share comes from hunting- and fishing-license fees and from the federal government’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.
“Certainly, we’ll abide by any of the cuts that apply to us, such as the ban on nonessential travel. We don’t engage in nonessential travel anyway, but we will certainly be watching our travel budgets,” he said.
While Johansen said the DNR’s major programs will remain unaffected, one minor one might suffer some ill affects. The Upper Mud River Wildlife Management Area gets its funding from general-revenue sources, and so is subject to Tomblin’s 4 percent cutback.
“We’ll have to adjust the budget for Upper Mud. budget cuts for upper mud…one area we have that is funded primarily through general revenue sources….admin of WMA…will be taking 4 percent cut there, will have to adjust accordingly. There might have to be some reductions in the hours that the area’s recreational facilities are open,” Johansen said.