NEW JERSEY – Senator Steve Oroho and Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths said Wednesday they wrote to Governor Phil Murphy asking him to stop the furlough of Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) employees and fully reopen Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).
“This move by the administration is not saving any money,” said Oroho, the Senate Republican Budget Officer and Co-Chairman of the NJ Angling, Hunting and Conservation Caucus. “The employees being furloughed are being paid from the New Jersey Hunters and Anglers Fund, not from regular state coffers.”
21 Bureau of Lands Management maintenance employees in the DWF are being forced to take furloughs. Their funding comes from New Jersey’s sportsmen and sportswomen who pay the Hunters and Anglers Fund through licenses and other fees and Pittman-Robertson Act funds through a federal excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition, the legislators said.
“It makes no sense to furlough these employees and shut down WMAs,” said Space, a co-chairman of the NJ Angling, Hunting and Conservation Caucus. “With many recreational opportunities still being closed or not operating at full capacity, the State should ensure that our precious natural resources remain open.”
This is not the first time the Murphy Administration has attempted to deprive residents of state-owned outdoor recreation. In the Spring, without warning, they arbitrarily closed state parks and forests, the legislators said.
“We do know that Division of State Parks and Forests employees are exempted from the furlough to keep the parks and the forests open to benefit our residents – that same exemption should be given to employees of the Fish and Wildlife,” said Wirths, the Assembly Republican Budget Officer and a member of the NJ Angling, Hunting and Conservation Caucus. “It is not only depriving residents of outdoor recreation but also depriving revenue from all the ancillary businesses dependent on people visiting and using these sites.”