Proclamation system seems to be workingOne of the more overlooked areas of natural resource management is the process for developing, printing and distributing regulations. Each year, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department produces either 10 or 11 printed regulations guides. The process is fairly time-sensitive and involves using a variety of information to develop a proclamation, having the governor sign the proclamation to make if official, printing, distribution of paper guides to all the license vendors in the state, and posting the guides online.
By: Doug Leier, North Dakota Outdoors, The Jamestown Sun
One of the more overlooked areas of natural resource management is the process for developing, printing and distributing regulations.
Each year, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department produces either 10 or 11 printed regulations guides. The process is fairly time-sensitive and involves using a variety of information to develop a proclamation, having the governor sign the proclamation to make if official, printing, distribution of paper guides to all the license vendors in the state, and posting the guides online.
While developing rules and regulations and letting hunters and anglers know about them is an essential function of the Game and Fish Department, activities like fish spawning, game surveys or warden patrols are typically more interesting to hunters and anglers.
Recently, the Game and Fish Department has tried to generate more input related to regulations by encouraging discussion on the agency’s current fishing guide. No, I’m not talking about an overhaul of current rules and regulations, but rather how and when the fishing guide is produced.
Since 1996, Game and Fish has produced a two-year fishing proclamation. North Dakota was the first state — and it remains the only state — to adopt a set of regulations that covers two years instead of one. All other game and fish proclamations cover one license year.
Keep in mind, the “proclamation” is the official document the governor signs. The fishing guide is the printed booklet containing rules and regulations.
The premise behind streamlining the regulations process is that fish populations statewide generally do not change dramatically from year to year. While changes up or down occur annually on individual waters, most notably on lakes that suffer winterkill, many proposed changes can wait an additional year for implementation.
When changes cannot wait, the governor can amend the proclamation. This has happened several times over the years, and when it occurs, guides that were already printed do not contain those new rules. While Game and Fish can publicize the changes and include them in a second printing of a guidebook, many of the 100,000 or so guides printed the first year are still circulating the second year.
Over the past 15 years, state anglers have not provided much feedback regarding the two-year regulation concept. That’s probably not unexpected. Game and Fish administrators are again reevaluating the process to determine whether a two-year or one-year proclamation would best serve the agency and state anglers in 2012 and beyond. Currently, Game and Fish prints 120,000 copies of the fishing guide in the first year, and an additional 50,000 in the second year.
Total cost savings per biennium with a two-year proclamation is about $30,000. Efforts to generate awareness of law changes occurs less often, though the number of changes each proclamation year is about double the number that would occur if the regulations were produced annually. There is less waste if anglers keep and use only one printed guide every two years, rather than discarding an old guide and obtaining a new guide every year.
On the other hand, a one-year proclamation is more responsive to regulation changes when they are needed. Anglers come to expect a few changes at the same time every year, and a one-year proclamation eliminates year-old guidebooks that are still circulating, but do not contain emergency changes.
The current process is not set in stone, but if you have any feelings either way, feel free to email me.
Leier is a biologist with the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email:firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog daily at dougleier.areavoices.com