Friday, January 20, 2012

FWP: Pay Raise Today - Increase Fees Tomorrow

Today the Independent Record reported that the Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) employees are all getting raises, some as much as $10,000. The paper reported these raises would cost FWP between $1.5 million and $2.5 million. What kind of business “brainiac” gives a raise and isn’t even aware if it is going to cost $1.5 million or $2.5 million? These types of statements are what make me think no one in government has a clue how to maintain any sort of budget. I guess for government department managers a million or so differential on $1.5 million dollar increase is close enough. FWP Director Joe Maurier stated that the wage increases are necessary to be competitive with neighboring states. You all remember Joe Maurier? He was Governor Schweitzer’s college roommate he appointed to head the FWP in 2008 for a salary of $96,963. (Again more of the culture of cronyism prevalent in Helena) The deputy Director just had his pay jumped from $85,508 to $96,429 but Maurier stressed that his own pay would stay the same.

In a related story in today’s Billings Gazette the FWP announced that Montana hunters and anglers may have to pay higher fees in the future because their department is operating in arrears. Just coincidently the decline in revenue has averaged around $2 million per year which is miraculously close to the amounts just announced in the Independent Record that they will be doling out in pay increases. Interestingly the Gazette article stated that nonresident fees pay for about two-thirds of FWP’s annual operating costs of $35 million. I couldn’t find current information but the total annual budget of the department in 2009 was $87 million.

Back in January of 2011 the Gazette reported that the FWP spent $90 million from various places to add 232,000 acres to their holdings. In April the Gazette reported that the FWP said they were considering selling 6 parcels of land that totaled about 440 acres because “the department is having trouble meeting operational and maintenance needs.”

From feast to famine to pawning our assets to pay for today.  Is anyone in charge over there?


  1. Director Mauriac's comment about being competitive with neighboring states never has any data to back that up. Doesn't our legislature have something to do with the budget for the executive branch?

  2. We love paying higher and higher license fees. FWP press releases should be a week apart when they conflict LOL

  3. The following is from Gary Marbut, president, Montana Shooting Sports Association

    Dear MSSA Friends,

    I composed the email below to a member of the FWP Commission and sent it to him and to a few others. Some of those others liked it so much, I thought I'd share it with you.



    Shane Colton
    FWP Commission


    See the story in the Bozeman Chronicle at:

    This is the first overt symptom of the agency "death spiral" for FWP.

    For two decades, FWP has come to focus on wildlife and biology, when it should have been focused on fish and game. A significant part of this picture has been FWP's shocking tolerance and support for large predators. FWP's total, willing, even eager cooperation with large predator enhancement has long been predicted to result in an economic crash for the agency, when the word unavoidably spreads that there is no game left to hunt so there is no reason to buy a license.

    ... to be continued

  4. ... continued

    FWP leaders have for too long leaned on the scales of policy by making excuses for the devastation wrought to game herds by large predators, fudging game counts and census numbers, and blaming any population declines that could not be covered up on climate change, sunspots, or aliens - anything but the truth. This coverup culture has been fostered by senior staff, always near retirement, who knew they'd be gone and not in the hot seat when the crisis actually arrived.

    If the overall FWP attitude had not been so Hell-bent on "ecosystem management," "biological diversity," "natural balance" and other similar catchy but terminal "green" ideas destined to end hunting, FWP managers could have projected the current crisis years ago. I guess nobody at FWP noticed or cared several years ago when the editor of the NRA's American Hunter magazine wrote a feature article about his fruitless elk hunting trip to southwest Montana, a trip where the only tracks he saw were wolf tracks. Nobody at FWP noticed or cared about the other thousands of warnings from Montana citizens. Worse, those warnings were ignored in a mad pursuit of a "green" agenda for FWP.

    The stock mantra from FWP managers has been: We're the professionals. We know best. The outcome concerned citizens project will never come to pass. The "evidence" of crashing game herds citizens cite is just "campfire stories" and is without merit because it doesn't come from professional FWP biologists.

    Yet when retired FWP employees, freed from the institutional FWP muzzle, asserted that FWP-tolerated wolves were turning the Montana landscape into a "biological desert," FWP dismissed such comments summarily.

    For the last two decades, FWP has been busy digging a hole for itself. As it sees daylight disappearing around the edges of the hole, it still won't quit digging.

    Of course, the obvious solution for the bureaucratic-bound and reality-disconnected FWP will be to announce, "We've been managing wildlife for the general public (including the non-Montana public) for years. Now we need the general public to pay the bills." FWP has so fouled its nest by inadvisably removing hunters from the economic equation that it will eventually have to go to the Legislature asking for relief, including increased fees that hunters simply won't pay to access a vanishing resource, and, ultimately, general taxpayer money.

    You can bet that when FWP approaches the Legislature demanding an allowance increase as a reward for having flunked Econ 101, MSSA and thousands of Montana hunters will be there to say "Absolutely no way." FWP has not only ignored the many warnings from Montana hunters, it has mocked and disrespected them.

    What FWP needs is not more or alternate sources of money, but a total change in attitude and culture. Until that happens, let FWP starve! It is not serving Montanans.

    Sincerely yours,

    Gary Marbut, president
    Montana Shooting Sports Association
    author, Gun Laws of Montana

  5. I like what Gary Marbut has to say. I attended meetings with fish & game that they have in each county. I quit going after two meetings. It was very evident that they didn't care about landowner input. They were going to do what ever they felt like, even when it contradicted the rules of good wildlife management.

  6. I like what Gary Marbut has to say. I attended meetings with fish & game that they have in each county. I quit going after two meetings. It was very evident that they didn't care about landowner input. They were going to do what ever they felt like, even when it contradicted the rules of good wildlife management.