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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, May 26, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesWildlife Restoration Funding Bill Moving Through Senate

Wildlife Restoration Funding Bill Moving Through Senate

All license and other fees paid by V.I. fishermen to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources will be kept separately in their own fund and reserved solely to administer fish and wildlife restoration programs, should a bill approved in Senate committee Friday become law.

The changes to local law are required under federal law to qualify for certain federal funding, DPNR Commissioner Alicia Barnes testified before the Planning and Environmental Protection Committee on St. Thomas.

"Eighty percent of the Division of Fish and Wildlife budget is linked to this," Barnes said. She estimated about $2.6 million in federal grants and all of Fish and Wildlife’s operations could be jeopardized if local law is not enacted to codify the federal requirements.

The bill creates a special fund in which to deposit license fees, prohibits commingling the funds with other government funds, and gives DPNR responsibility to see that the funds are spent only on fishery restoration and management projects.

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Several sections of the bill that would have authorized DPNR to set up and regulate a sport fishing program were removed from the bill through an amendment. Sports fishermen testified in opposition to those passages and Barnes recommended striking them, saying they were "not necessary."

Voting to send the amended bill on to the Rules and Judiciary Committee were Sens. Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Neville James, Ronald Russell, Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O’Reilly and Patrick Hill. Absent were Sens. Craig Barshinger and Patrick Sprauve.

The committee also sent on three Coastal Zone Management minor permits with favorable recommendations for:

Alex Randall on Water Island, to continue using an existing pier, renewing the CZM permit for 10 years, with an annual fee of $1500;
The MacDonald Land Trust, to renew its permit and continue use and occupancy; and
Sapphire Bay Resort and Marina Condominium Owners Association, to continue use and occupancy on submerged land where a pre-existing fuel storage facility is located.

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All license and other fees paid by V.I. fishermen to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources will be kept separately in their own fund and reserved solely to administer fish and wildlife restoration programs, should a bill approved in Senate committee Friday become law.

The changes to local law are required under federal law to qualify for certain federal funding, DPNR Commissioner Alicia Barnes testified before the Planning and Environmental Protection Committee on St. Thomas.

"Eighty percent of the Division of Fish and Wildlife budget is linked to this," Barnes said. She estimated about $2.6 million in federal grants and all of Fish and Wildlife's operations could be jeopardized if local law is not enacted to codify the federal requirements.

The bill creates a special fund in which to deposit license fees, prohibits commingling the funds with other government funds, and gives DPNR responsibility to see that the funds are spent only on fishery restoration and management projects.

Several sections of the bill that would have authorized DPNR to set up and regulate a sport fishing program were removed from the bill through an amendment. Sports fishermen testified in opposition to those passages and Barnes recommended striking them, saying they were "not necessary."

Voting to send the amended bill on to the Rules and Judiciary Committee were Sens. Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Neville James, Ronald Russell, Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O'Reilly and Patrick Hill. Absent were Sens. Craig Barshinger and Patrick Sprauve.

The committee also sent on three Coastal Zone Management minor permits with favorable recommendations for:

Alex Randall on Water Island, to continue using an existing pier, renewing the CZM permit for 10 years, with an annual fee of $1500;
The MacDonald Land Trust, to renew its permit and continue use and occupancy; and
Sapphire Bay Resort and Marina Condominium Owners Association, to continue use and occupancy on submerged land where a pre-existing fuel storage facility is located.