Green River Star -

By David Martin
Editor 

Bill proposes license plate for wildlife connectivity

 

January 17, 2018



The Muley Fanatics Foundation is drumming up support for a legislative bill that would help create wildlife crossings through the purchase of special license plates.

The bill, known as House Bill 39, would allow someone buying plates for their vehicle to opt for a special conservation place that would support conservation efforts within the state transportation system, including game fences, wildlife corridors, crossings and signage. Under the bill, anyone interested in purchasing the plate would be charged a$100 fee on top of their regular plate fees, which would go to a conservation account the bill would establish.

Joshua Coursey, cofounder of the Muley Fantatics Foundation, said the idea came about after small group discussion at a wildlife summit in Pinedale last year. One of the problems discussed was the ongoing problems with wildlife collisions on Wyoming’s highways. Coursey said the main problem is remedies to the problem are known, funding those remedies remains a problem.

“We’re trying to be creative and find a way,” Coursey said.

Coursey said wildlife crossings have shown to reduce interactions between vehicles and wildlife, through the costs of installing a crossing can be as much as $8 million in some locations.

Members of the MFF have already voiced their support for the bill on the MFF website, which has a special link where users can add their name and a number of plates they would consider purchasing if the bill passed. As of Tuesday afternoon, the number of supporters total 1,643. Supposing each of those supporters purchase a plate, that would amount to $164,300.

Rep. Stan Blake, D-Green River, introduced the bill, with sponsorships from eight legislators including Rep. Tom Crank, R-Kemmerer, and Sen. John Hastert, D-Green River. Blake said he got involved when Joey Faigl, the other cofounder of the MFF, contacted him about sponsoring the bill. Blake said Faigl also designed the mock license plate, which features a photo of a mule deer with the iconic bucking horse, plate number and the words “Wyoming Support Wildlife Connectivity” superimposed over the image. Blake said the bucking horse was a needed feature, as he thought the legislature would have voted against the bill without it. While the mock plate doesn’t leave out the bucking horse, it does eliminate the county number designation.

However, one of the challenges facing the bill is the fact that similar license plate bills have been voted down in the past. Blake said bills that would have established special license plates for causes like cancer research have been killed by the legislature. Blake said the reason is many legislators like to maintain the status quo on the plate designs. However, he said a number of people have shown support for the bill, which gives him hope it will make it through the Wyoming House. One person adding his support is Rep. John Freeman, D-Green River, who said he has voted against every other special license plate designation, but would support Blake’s bill because he enjoys Wyoming’s wildlife.

“We can get this done. Grass roots efforts like this are what pass in the legislature,” Blake said.

 

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