Berkowitz Unveils Part II of the Alaskan Ownership Stake - Lifetime Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Licenses
FROM THE DESK OF ETHAN BERKOWITZ
September 16, 2010
Dear Fellow Alaskan:
In late August, I introduced The Alaskan Ownership Stake and presented Part I of the plan,
called "Own a Piece of the Pipe." That part of the plan would allow individual Alaskans to choose
to invest in the gas pipeline. Alaska benefits when Alaskans have direct and permanent ties to
Today I am unveiling Part II of The Alaskan Ownership Stake. Part II features a commonsense
proposal to give Alaskans the ability to purchase Lifetime Hunting/Fishing/Trapping Licenses.
The Lifetime License recognizes that we as a people are closely connected to the land and waters
of our state, and that our heritage and culture is bound to our fish and game. In that spirit, a
permanent Lifetime License makes it clear that our rights to hunt, fish and trap are a defining value
and that our stake in these resources will be respected and protected.
At least 27 other states offer some form of a lifetime hunting/fishing license, and even here in
Alaska residents age 60 and over can apply for the equivalent of a lifetime license. These programs
have been overwhelming successes. This plan would extend those opportunities to all Alaska
residents, regardless of age.
Here's how the Lifetime License proposal would work:
· Allow each Alaskan to choose to purchase a license to hunt, fish, and/or trap that will last an
entire lifetime. This option should have special appeal to Alaskans who enjoy these activities
every year. Purchasers of these licenses would get a special permanent wallet sized
card. They would also receive a certificate suitable for framing that demonstrates their
commitment to our shared fish and game resources.
· A Lifetime License would mean that people who hunt, fish and trap could buy their license
once rather than every year, and it would be a right they take with them wherever they go.
Alaskans would submit a one-time application and pay a one-time fee to guarantee their
stake in Alaska by securing their right to hunt, fish and trap in our state for their lifetime.
Annual King Stamps, waterfowl stamps and big game tags would still be required for
purchase every year.
· Revenues generated from Lifetime Licenses would go into the Alaska Fish and Game Fund,
an existing fund statutorily authorized to provide support for various fish and game
programs, including habitat restoration.
Other details about this Lifetime License idea can be found at the Frequently Asked Questions
portion of my website, www.EthanBerkowitz.com.
As Governor, and with your help, we can make sure Alaskans benefit from Alaska's hunting, fishing
and trapping traditions. Please go to my website (www.EthanBerkowitz.com) to learn more
about The Alaskan Ownership Stake, and consider supporting my campaign so that we can
implement these commonsense plans.
P.S. I've included a sample Lifetime License card and certificate as an example of what a
participating Alaskan might get if they choose to stake their future hunting, fishing and trapping
rights in our state. Please be on the lookout for the additional components of The Alaskan
Ownership Stake over the next several weeks.
P.P.S. If you would like more information about Part I of The Alaskan Ownership Stake, "Own
a Piece of the Pipe," please go to my website at www.EthanBerkowitz.com.
Paid for by Energize Alaska, PO Box 91365, Anchorage, Alaska, 99509
The Alaskan Ownership Stake
Part II: Lifetime Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Licenses
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q.1 What is the Alaskan Ownership Stake?
Alaska’s unique character embodies independence and self-reliance – traits rooted in our history and
lodestars for our future. That spirit is integral to “The Alaskan Ownership Stake” - a strategic plan
for the future of our state that is designed to harness the power of Alaskan resources, Alaskan
initiative, and the free market for the benefit of all Alaskans. Alaska benefits when Alaskans have
direct and permanent ties to our resources.
Part I of the plan, called “Own a Piece of the Pipe” introduced a concept that would allow
individual Alaskans to choose to invest in the gas pipeline.
Part II creates the opportunity to purchase a Lifetime Hunting/Fishing/Trapping License. Here,
where we are so closely tied to the land and waters of our state, where our heritage and culture is
bound to our fish and game, a permanent Lifetime License makes it clear that our rights to hunt,
fish and trap are a defining value and that our stake in these resources will be respected and
Q.2 What is a lifetime hunting/fishing/trapping license?
A. Alaskan hunters, fishers and trappers would submit a one-time application, and pay a onetime
fee, to secure their stake in Alaska by securing their right to hunt, fish and trap in our state for
their lifetime. You wouldn’t have to buy a new license every year. Once you qualify it would be a
Lifetime License that you own and take with you wherever you go. Participants who buy a Lifetime
License are also protecting themselves against inflation and the risk that annual license fees may be
raised in the future. If they already own a Lifetime License they are protected from those future
increases in prices.
Q.3 If I get a Lifetime License, does this mean I don’t need to buy big game tags or
A. No, you would still need to buy annual tags and stamps required by the State. This program
only applies to the underlying licenses themselves.
Q.4 How will Lifetime Licenses affect fish and game management practices in the state?
Does it impact other uses such as subsistence or commercial uses?
A. There will be no negative impact on the management practices employed by state resource
managers. There is also no impact to other users such as subsistence or commercial users because
the Lifetime License is only applicable to recreational hunting and fishing, including subsistence use.
If anything, this program will enhance our management options because it will generate more
revenue in the early years that will be directly applied to projects and programs to manage and
enhance our fish and game opportunities, all without raising taxes or creating new taxes.
Q.5 Why should Alaska adopt this program?
A. In addition to eliminating some annual bureaucratic hassles for Alaskan sportsmen and
women, Lifetime Licenses generate more revenue for the existing Alaska Fish and Game Fund,
thereby expanding the ability of the Fish and Game Department to enhance wildlife and fishery
opportunities for sportsmen and women.
Lifetime Licenses also improve the tourism economy in our state. Qualified Alaskans can purchase
Lifetime Licenses that will provide them with a stake in hunting and fishing rights in our state, even
if they move. When they come back to Alaska they will be able to take advantage of their Lifetime
Licenses for hunting and fishing, bringing their visitor dollars back to Alaska. And when they come
back they are likely to bring friends or relatives with them, and those friends and relatives will buy
the full price non-resident licenses and permits, generating more revenue to the Fish and Game
Fund. As visitors, odds are that they will hire local guides, use local transportation, and stay in local
lodging – which boosts the state’s tourism economy.
Q.6 Does this lessen the amount of money brought into the State by not selling licenses
A. There is a chance that eventually so many residents purchase Lifetime Licenses that we will
see diminished revenue generated by the sale of annual resident licenses. However, that loss is offset
because some people may purchase a Lifetime License who would not otherwise purchase annual
licenses, and because this type of licensing will attract former Alaskans home to enjoy our
recreational opportunities. For example, Alaska is home to approximately 25,000 military personnel.
As new military personnel arrive in Alaska, as they become eligible to purchase resident Lifetime
Licenses, we will likely see sales increase. In addition, through natural in-migration as people move
to Alaska and current young people become of the age that they need to purchase licenses, we will
see additional sales of Lifetime Licenses. Likewise, because the largest source of revenue from the
sale of fishing and hunting license comes from non-residents coming to Alaska every year, that
revenue source will likely remain largely unchanged under this program. Also, under this proposal all
fishermen and hunters – regardless of whether they are resident or nonresidents – must still pay for
King Stamps, waterfowl stamps and big game permits. That revenue source will not change.
Keep in the mind the largest source of license funds currently come from out of state non-residents
who buy temporary licenses when they visit Alaska. That piece of the state’s revenue stream will not
change under this proposal.
Also, Alaska’s population is aging and under current Alaska law, anyone age 60 or over can currently
apply for a permanent license for hunting and fishing rights. According the most recent Alaska Fish
and Game report for 2009, 6,359 Alaskans age 60 and over have permanent ID for fishing and
hunting. As more Alaskans reach the age of 60, those Alaskans who would have paid for a hunting
or fishing license every year no longer have to, meaning the state would eventually see declining
revenue in the program anyway, unless the annual fee for each license is increased.
It is also important to use our financial resources as wisely as possible. The state needs to do more
to enhance the hunting and fishing options for Alaskans, but that takes money. If we rely on a long
range plan that waits for funds to come in too far down the road, inflation will increase the cost of
those projects. If we can accelerate some revenue into the Alaska Fish and Game fund to move
planned projects (such as fish hatcheries) off the shelf and into shovel ready status sooner then we
will reduce the future costs of those projects. We will also be putting more Alaskans to work on
those new projects. And, under the rules of the Fish and Game Fund, funds can be used to retire
debt on qualified projects. If Alaskans decide they want to reduce the current debt load on existing
publicly financed fish and game projects then some of these funds could be used for that purpose.
Q.7 Under your proposal, what if I am an Alaska resident when I buy my Lifetime
License and I later leave the state and establish residency in another state?
A. Once you buy a Lifetime License it is yours to keep for your entire lifetime, regardless of
where you live. If you become a resident of another state you would be entitled to come back to
Alaska to use your Lifetime License. We would make sure all appropriate statutes in Alaska are
amended to protect your right to use your Alaska Lifetime License.
You would still be required to buy any additional tags, stamps or permits that may be needed for
your fish or game of choice at the cost then in effect. For example, if you wanted to fish for King
Salmon, you would have to buy a King Salmon stamp.
Q.8 If I purchase a resident Lifetime License and I later become a resident of another
state, would your plan require me to use an Alaska guide when I come back to Alaska to
A. Yes. Under this plan only hunters who are actual residents of the state of Alaska at the time
of their hunt would be exempt from needing to hire an Alaska guide, just as is the current law. With
a lifetime resident license you are buying the right to come back and hunt and fish in perpetuity, but
you would still need to abide by all hunting and fishing regulations then in effect, including the use
of local guides, as applicable.
Q.9 Alaska has a program for residents age 60 and older where they don’t need to buy
hunting, fishing or trapping licenses. If I am getting close to age 60, or I am currently 60 or
older, why would I consider buying the Lifetime License you propose?
A. If you are close to turning 60 or you are already 60 or older this plan may not be right for
you. But if you think you might be leaving Alaska to become a resident of another state you might
decide to buy this license so that you can continue to come back to Alaska to enjoy our sport fish
Q.10 Could I buy a Lifetime License for another Alaska resident as a gift?
A. Yes. So long as the recipient of the Lifetime License is an Alaska resident at the time of the
application you would be able to buy him or her a Lifetime License. We want to encourage as many
Alaskans to have a stake in the future of our resources as possible, and I can envision a father or
mother, an aunt or uncle or a grandfather or grandmother buying someone in their family a Lifetime
Q.11 How would your program deal with Alaska’s low-income resident license program or
the disabled veteran license program?
A. Under this proposal the current low income resident program and the disabled veteran
program would not change.
Q.12 How much would a resident Lifetime License cost?
A. Initially I propose that a lifetime resident fishing license be sold for approximately $240. This
is ten times the annual resident license of $24. Similarly, I am proposing selling a lifetime resident
hunting license for $250, also ten times the annual hunting license. I propose a combination license
be offered for $490. We would deal with lifetime trapping licenses in the same manner, $150 for a
Lifetime License. (For consistency purposes those are the numbers I have based my additional
assumptions and projections on throughout these FAQs). In addition, there would be a one time
administrative fee (in my scenario I assume $25) for the cost of your Lifetime License and your
I understand that staff at the Alaska Division of Sport Fish and the Division of Wildlife
Conservation might want to propose a different price structure. In addition, the Alaska Legislature
will probably propose some price points of its own during debate on this proposal. The important
thing to balance is making this piece of the Alaskan Ownership Stake affordable to average Alaskans
while also maintaining the financial integrity of the various fish and game programs into the future.
Q.13 How many licenses are currently sold in Alaska?
A. According to 2009 Alaska Fish and Game reports: ( http://www.admin.adfg.state.ak.us/admin/license/2009info.pdf)
Total resident fishing, hunting and trapping (and combination) licenses sold in 2009 were 338,613.
These totals include 6,359 permanent ID cards given to Alaskans 60 and older. These totals exclude
the sales of resident King Stamps and other big game tags. Combined, the sales of these resident
licenses (excluding stamps and tags), generated net revenue of $5.8 million.
Total nonresident fishing, hunting and trapping (or combination) licenses sold in 2009 totaled
269,955. These figures exclude additional non-resident King Stamps and big game tags. The sales of
these non-resident licenses generated net revenue of $11.8 million. Under my proposal this number
is not likely to change dramatically unless an unusually large number of Alaskans who are Lifetime
License holders choose to leave the state and come back in the future. In that case they will be
bringing back with them tourist dollars, including friends and family who are all likely to buy a full
price non-resident license of one form or another. In addition, they are likely to use the services of
local guides, stay in local hotels, B&Bs, or lodges, purchase airfare and generally spend money in the
The sale of additional King Stamps and big game tags generates another $6.2 million from resident
and non-residents. Under my proposal this would not change because those would still have to be
purchased by residents and non-residents alike.
Q.14 What is the current budget for Sport Fish Management in Alaska?
A. According to the Sport Fish Division Strategic Plan it has an annual budget of approximately
$50 million. Nearly all of the funds are derived from user-pay sources including the sale of fishing
licenses, stamps, and sport fishing-related equipment and fuel. The primary funding sources are the
Alaska Fish and Game Fund and the federal Sport Fish Restoration Program. The Division of Sport
Fisheries oversees Alaska’s sport fisheries, with an estimated total annual economic impact of $1.4
The federal Sport Fish Restoration Program is administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The
program (WSFR) works with states, insular areas and the District of Columbia to conserve, protect,
and enhance fish, wildlife, their habitats, and the hunting, sport fishing and recreational boating
opportunities they provide. The federal Division of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program
provides oversight and/or administrative support for the following grant programs:3
• Wildlife Restoration Grant Program
• Sport Fish Restoration Grant Program
• Clean Vessel Act Grant Program
• Boating Infrastructure Grant Program
• National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program
• State Wildlife Grant Program
• Landowner Incentive Grant Program
• Multistate Grant Program
• Tribal Wildlife Grant Program
• Tribal Landowner Incentive Grant Program
Q.15 Where does the Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation derive its funding?
A. Approximately 90 percent of the Division of Wildlife Conservation's funding is provided by
hunters and trappers through license and tag fees and matching federal funds derived from excise
taxes on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment. The economic value of hunting in Alaska
annually exceeds $100 million, excluding the value of subsistence harvests. Revenue into the Fish
and Game Fund has increased since 1993 as a result of increased resident hunting and trapping
license fees. Alaska's federal aid apportionments, known as Pittman-Robertson (PR) funds, have also
increased substantially in recent years.4
2 State of Alaska Division of Sport Fish Strategic Plan 2010-2014.
Q.16 How much money could be raised by the sale of Lifetime Licenses?
A. Based on my assumptions, in the early years the program could generate an extra $12.5
million per year for the Alaska Fish and Game Fund. To reach this figure I assume the following:
- a resident lifetime fishing license cost of $240
- a resident lifetime hunting license cost of $250
- a resident lifetime trapping license of $150
- a one-time admin and printing fee of $25 per new Lifetime License
- 15% participation each year of the eligible population
These numbers will obviously change if you use different assumptions. In addition, as part of the
legislative process the debate over the appropriate charges may result in different pricing than what I
Q.17 Where would the money go that is raised by the Lifetime License sales?
A. Under current state law all proceeds from the sale of fishing and hunting licenses already go
to the existing Alaska Fish and Game Fund. My proposal would not change that. All proceeds from
the sale of these new Lifetime Licenses would go to the same fund that currently exists.
Q.18 What is the Alaska Fish and Game Fund?
A. The Alaska Fish and Game Fund provides funding for various fish and game programs.
Examples include habitat restoration, program and department management expenses, debt
retirement for fish and game related construction and rehabilitation projects and other programs.
The Fish and Game fund is authorized in the Alaska Statutes at AS 16.05.100.
Q.19 Where do the Fish and Game Fund’s monies come from?
A. Alaska statutes provide for the source of funding to the Fish and Game Fund (AS
16.05.110). Sources include:
- money received from the sale of state sport fishing, hunting, and trapping licenses, tags,
and special permits, waterfowl conservation tags purchased by hunters, and anadromous salmon tags
purchased by fishermen;
- proceeds received from the sale of furs, skins, and specimens taken by predator hunters
and other employees;
- money received in settlement of a claim or loss caused by damage to the fish and game
resources of the state;
- money received from federal, state, or other governmental unit, or from a private donor for
fish and game purposes;
- interest earned upon money in the fund;
- money from any other source.
Q.20 Would your plan reduce the amount of federal matching funds Alaska currently gets
from specific programs tied to the sale of hunting or fishing licenses, such as the Pittman-
Robertson program or the Dingell-Johnson program?
A. Those matching federal programs are a critical piece of the state’s funding plan for hunting
and fishing management and the Alaska Fish and Game Fund. My Administration will take extra
care in drafting the statutory details of this Lifetime License to make sure we do not reduce Alaska’s
rights to the matching funds we are entitled to under federal statutes. We will not allow a program to
be put in place that jeopardizes this important source of funding and will consult with the 27 other
states who have implemented this idea to ensure that we do not risk matching federal funds. I
believe we can use our creativity to shape this Lifetime License opportunity for Alaskans while
complying with federal matching guidelines.
Q.21 If Lifetime License program were put into law for all resident and Military personnel,
how do I know the extra money going into the Fish and Game Fund would not be diverted
for other purposes by the Legislature?
A. Alaska law is very specific about the use of funds from the sale of fishing and hunting
licenses. AS 16.05.130 provides that funds generated by the sale of licenses must be used by the
Department of Fish and Game for related fish and game programs. In that way protections are
already built into the proper use of the new funds that would be generated by this Lifetime License
Q.22 Do other states have similar programs?
A. A review of all 50 states shows that at least 27 other states allow residents to buy some form
of a lifetime fishing or hunting license. Below are the states and the web addresses where you can
find out more about each state program.
North Carolina http://www.ncwildlife.org/License/index.htm
New Hampshire http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Licensing/Lifetime_license_fees.pdf
New York http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6099.html
South Carolina http://www.dnr.sc.gov/regs/pdf/lifetimelicenses.pdf
West Virginia http://www.wvdnr.gov/hunting/lifetime.shtm
In addition, the state of South Dakota is currently examining this option.5
Q.23 What are the costs to buy Lifetime Licenses in the other states?
A. The costs for other state licenses vary greatly. For example, a lifetime hunting license in Iowa
is $52.50, while a lifetime hunting license in Texas is $1,000. In addition, many states offer lower
cost pricing for residents as they get older.
Q.24 What would a Lifetime License look like?
A. I believe a Lifetime License should, in fact, last a lifetime. Therefore, I propose each
purchaser of a Lifetime License would get a durable and waterproof plastic card the size of your
driver’s license to hold in your wallet. In addition, each purchaser of a Lifetime License would get a
certificate or plaque suitable for displaying. You can see a sample Lifetime License on my website,
www.EthanBerkowitz.com, where you can also request one and read more about the Alaskan
Keep in mind these cards and certificates are merely samples. As part of my plan I intend to harness
the creativity of Alaska wildlife artists through a competition whereby they would submit their
designs in a competition for the type of artwork that should appear on the license card and
You may have other questions about this Lifetime License idea that are not reflected in this
document. If so, please send me your questions so we can include them in our deliberative process.
Questions can be submitted on www.EthanBerkowitz.com.
5 The sponsor of the legislation before the South Dakota House of Representatives checked with a number of other
states who currently have this system, and found that if they had it to do all over again they would. See