What a Bargain
By Brian G. Schommer
As 2021 ends and we head into a new year, many of you are getting your list all together; it is resolution time. Personally, I am not real big on making any formal “end all, be all” goals from year to year, partially because I realized after some time that I was not very good at maintaining the focus or effort to achieve the goals I set. Another realization was that the goals i.e., resolutions that I put in place were a bit lofty and unattainable. The combination of lack of diligence and unreachable goals proved too often to be unproductive and fruitless. The problem with a lot of people, myself smack dab in the middle of the pack, is we want it all and we want it now. The same can be said for many of the expectations that we put on others.
For example, I recently had a discussion with a fellow outdoors type that revolved around the cost of hunting and fishing licenses. The conversation started with a simple question, as many often do and soon it escalated into more of a debate than a discussion. Who knew that two people with very similar interests, beliefs and hobbies might disagree from time to time? “Do you think we get what we pay for,” was the question that fueled the fire. I did not ask the question, but judging by his reaction, I am confident that my answer was not what he expected.
My answer: “I think it is a bargain.” As a look of disgust came upon his face, it was apparent that we were not in agreement here, which is a very rare thing with us. Like I said, we generally are on the same page of the playbook, no matter what the game may be. “A bargain,” he replied, “I just read that the Minnesota DNR budget is over $1 billion a year.” He was quick to add, “that is one billion… with a “B.” He went on to expand on his thoughts that if those who hunt and fish pay over a billion dollars in licensing fees, there should be way more public hunting land, our lakes, streams, and rivers should be pristine and there should never be any habitat or environmental issues at all. My next move… while I should have just agreed to disagree, I added fuel to the fire.
“Do you think the entire budget for the DNR comes from hunting and fishing license fees,” I asked? He laughed and said, “well no, but a big part of it does.” He also reiterated information that has hit the page in “Outdoor Adventures” in the past that a lot of sales tax dollars for equipment and attire for hunting and fishing goes back to the DNR budget. I agreed with him that most definitely a significant part of the DNR budget comes from license fees. We did a quick “Google” and found in 2021, hunting and fishing license fees combined generated over $53 million. That is a far cry from $1 billion with a “B.” The budget page for the Minnesota DNR is filled with information about the many revenue sources that fund the department, expenditures, and the various funding for different areas too which the department is responsible for and such. What appeared to be a fight had once again become a discussion.
The Department of Natural Resources in any State does much more than take care of hunting and fishing type folks. As essential to all our lives by maintaining a healthy air quality and keeping our water clean, preserving our outdoor heritage, maintaining our parks and trails for camping and hiking, and providing space for hunting and fishing, the impact of the DNR is huge for all of us. My friend brought up the old joke that DNR stands for “Department of No Results.” After looking at the website a bit, we realized that while government often moves slow, and way too slow for most of us, for $1 billion with a “B,” for all they do and all that we complain about, the DNR is a bargain for all of us. Think about that next time you are out and breathing fresh air because that fresh air is brought to you in part by the Department of Natural Resources. Here is an attainable goal for almost all of us in the next couple days… “Get Out and Enjoy the Great Outdoors.”