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DNR Budget Takes Hit

For the first time in years the state Division of Natural Resources is going to have to lean on funds from the state’s general revenue account to run the agency.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Walt Helmick says it will take about a million dollars to make up for the decrease in hunting licenses sold in West Virginia. Helmick says that number continues to go down and lawmakers need to work with the DNR on options to cut costs or raise additional revenue.

Helmick says the legislature could opt to reduce the number of DNR conservation officers to save money. He says there are currently 34 positions. Helmick says there’s a request to leave that option on the table for at least the next year.

Helmick says the other option involves making fishing opportunities more attractive in the state by growing more trout. He says 750,000 pounds of trout are grown each year at state fish hatcheries. Helmick says there’s interest to increase that number to 1 million pounds.

"We should be able to do it rather quickly," he said. "That’s a two to three year proposition."

Helmick says if the legislature does nothing, the DNR will lean more and more on general funds to finance its agency in the future.

"We’ve not addressed this issue, which was laying out there for us to address," Helmick said.

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