This approach has been around for some time.  There are several things to bear in mind, especially as this concept is considered for Missouri. 

1.  Missouri stands alone in having the Conservation Sales Tax.  This one-eighth cent tax goes a long way to support the Missouri Conservation Department budget.  I don't have the current percentage, but in recent years, this tax supplied more than 60% of the annual budget for the agency.  

Sales tax revenues far exceed the amount received from hunting and fishing licenses.

This means ALL Missourians ALREADY support conservation in our state.

2. I came back from Louisiana several years ago, excited about their "non-consumptive stamp".  When I discussed it with MDC employees, they noted that:
a.  We have the sales tax
b.  The stamp/license would cost more to administer than it is worth in receipts

3.  The Missouri Department of Conservation has a solid record of managing for ALL species, not just game species.  This means our MDC sets agency policy and evaluates management practices and personnel performance in the light of full habitat suites of species, not just deer, turkey, quail, etc.

In a couple of neighboring states, one has a budget for non-game species dependent on a $1 tax designation (oh, gee, do I dare say it...an earmark) on the state income tax form to go to non-game management.  Another, as of five years ago had only TWO wildlife agency personnel whose responsibilities were for non-game species.  Two for a whole state, whereas in Missouri virtually all personnel are expected to include non-game species in their planning and management practices.

4.  If we birders, as non-consumptive users of Missouri public lands (and I include state parks administered by DNR, as in many states, one agency manages both parks and wildlife areas) wish to support the agencies that manage these lands above what we pay in the two sales taxes, we can:
a.  Vote to continue the parks sales tax when it comes before voters
b.  Make sure the state legislature does not repeal the conservation sales tax or impose a sunset clause on it
c.  Tell others about the top notch departments we have and what they are accomplishing for non-game species
d.  Contribute dollars to support our favorite venues or the departments in general by direct contribution. Write a check, put dollars in the box at a park, etc.

Edge Wade
Columbia, MO
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On Nov 22, 2010, at 8:49 AM, Bob Fisher wrote:

This press release from the Oklahoma list, to which I subscribe:
 
Conservation passport provides new way to support conservation

            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will soon offer a new avenue for wildlife enthusiasts to support wildlife conservation.

            At its June meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission established a special use permit that will be required of persons using certain Department-owned lands who do not hold a valid hunting or fishing license. The permit has been designated the conservation passport and will be available in the form of a license that will be sold online at wildlifedepartment.com or anywhere hunting and fishing licenses are sold.

            House Bill 2862, by Representative Phil Richardson and Paul Roan and Senator Ron Justice, authorized the Wildlife Conservation Commission to establish the passport on lands owned by the Wildlife Department. The passport was already required at the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area in south-central Oklahoma.

            Many other WMAs offer shooting ranges, camping, hiking, horseback riding, nature trails, wildlife watching and other activities as a result of sportsmen’s dollars used to purchase, enhance and develop those areas primarily used for hunting and fishing.

            “We had a number of conservation groups that wanted to have a permit that could help support these public use areas,” said Jim Edwards, assistant director of the Wildlife Department. “And since these properties are bought or managed by sportsmen’s dollars, people that use those properties ought to also pay at least a corresponding amount for upkeep and maintenance.”

            The new requirement will go into effect Jan. 1, 2011, at all Wildlife Department owned areas except Blue River, where the passport is already required. The price for the conservation passport is set at $26, which is $1 more than a hunting or fishing license. In addition to saving money on the purchase price, those who opt for a hunting or fishing license will also see their dollars go further in conserving wildlife because of matching federal dollars from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that apply to hunting and fishing license sales but not to conservation passport sales.
 
Evidently, a hunting or fishing license or conservation passport will now be needed for OK birders (and visitors from out of state) to get into some of the state's most important birding areas. Please note the OK Commission's strong bias toward purchase of a hunting or fishing license even by non-consumptive users. If the point of the legislation is to let conservation groups (including birders) have more clout by paying part of the bill, from my perspective, they would get more (and the Commission would get matching funds) if they were able to indicate their non-consumptive interest when buying a hunting or fishing license. How about a "fishing and conservation passport" or a "hunting and conservation passport" for an extra buck?

Bob Fisher
Independence, MO
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------------------------------------------------------------
The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Website: http://mobirds.org/

------------------------------------------------------------
The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Website: http://mobirds.org/