Says Administration Has Restricted Access and Furloughed Workers Paid from Fees on Sportsmen Licenses
Senator Michael Testa and Assemblymen Erik Simonsen and Antwan McClellan urged the Governor to reopen Wildlife Management Areas across New Jersey and find more productive opportunities to save money for the cash-strapped state.
Senator Testa and Assemblymen Simonsen and McClellan are calling on the Governor to reopen Wildlife Management Areas across New Jersey and find more productive opportunities to save money for the cash-strapped state. (SenateNJ.com)
“The Governor made a big deal out of furloughing some workers and shutting down wildlife areas, but there’s no savings there. The workers are paid from funds collected for fees on hunting and fishing licenses and the federal excise tax on hunting weapons and ammo,” said Testa (R-1). “We have all seen enough of Murphy’s spending habits to know he doesn’t have to look very hard to find significant savings for New Jersey, but this plan hurts residents, especially in coastal communities, and fails to save money.”
Closing Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) strikes hard at New Jerseyans who like to capitalize on the Garden State’s natural assets to hike, hunt and fish, Testa said.
“Why would you furlough the employees who maintain our Wildlife Management Areas during the busiest time of the year for these sites? It makes zero sense,” Assemblyman Simonsen said. “What’s Next? Will the Governor furlough the snow plow operators in January? It’s poor, short-sighted management, plain and simple. We need to reopen these boat ramps now, get the government out of the way and give these small businesses a shot at some kind of summer season.”
“Outdoor enthusiasts have paid for access through their licenses and they are being prohibited from using them now, in the heart of this region’s annual season,” said Testa. “With all that is going on with the pandemic, outdoor recreation is more important than ever as a diversion for many who have lost jobs and are enduring emotional stress and health worries from the virus threat.”
“Instead of targeting these furloughs in a thoughtful way, we once again see a ham-handed and thoughtless approach from the Murphy Administration,” Assemblyman McClellan said. “Dozens of tourism-related sites throughout the state have been closed or their access greatly limited by the furloughing of Wildlife Management Area employees during the most important time of the year for them to be working. Over 40 sites, offering an array of summer season amenities will be closed through July 27.”
The average fisherman spends $22.50 for a basic fishing license and an additional $10.50 for a trout stamp allowing them to fish trout-stocked waters. That’s a $33 investment before throwing a line in the water.
“WMAs were closed for so long when the pandemic hit. They were only open for a short time before Murphy pulled the plug. I’m calling on the Administration to unlock the areas again, stop intruding on the lives of residents, and work harder to reopen the economy and get people back to work,” Testa continued. “That’s the best solution for New Jersey’s fiscal problems.”
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