Starting this month Connecticut residents will pay twice as much as last year to visit a state park or to buy a fishing license. WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports the cost of environmental permits for businesses is also increasing.
Businesses that used to pay $150 to $1000 for a permit will now pay 25% more. And residents will pay double for a hunting license or camping in a state park. The cost of visiting a shoreline park, like Hammonasset. will also double from $10 on weekends to $20. Dennis Schain of the Department of Environmental Protection says the agency doesn’t expect the increases will keep people from visiting.
“Even at $20 a day to go to Hammonasset on a Saturday or a Sunday with a family it’s still a good bargain. You can’t take a family with a couple of kids to the movies even for that price.”
The D.E.P. estimates the fee increases will bring in an additional $11 million a year. In the past that revenue would have gone into funds controlled by the D.E.P. But under the new state budget the money will go into the general fund. Eric Hammerling of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association opposes the change. He says money collected at parks should go into funds that specifically support the parks.
“Funds that go into the general fund are just much more vulnerable to the whim of either the legislature or Administration in future years”
The D.E.P. did not have it’s budget cut this year. But it did lose 66 employees to early retirement and the agency can replace only about a third of them.