Lawmakers want two-year contract for Fish and Wildlife director

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – A group of 34 state lawmakers have sent a letter asking Gov. Andy Beshear to provide state Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Rich Storm a two-year contract.

The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission made that recommendation in January but Beshear has suggested a one-year deal would be more appropriate given the financial uncertainties created by the coronavirus pandemic.

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But the 34 lawmakers say those concerns don’t apply.

“This simply should not be an issue. Members of the Fish and Wildlife Commission voted unanimously in January to offer Commissioner Storm a two-year renewal and the administration should respect that decision,” Rep. Matt Koch said. “To say that a one-year contract is more appropriate because of COVID-19 disregards that the Department receives no state tax dollars and is entirely funded by Kentucky’s outdoorsmen and women.”

The Fish and Wildlife Commission is made up of nine members who serve four-year terms after licensed hunters and anglers in each of nine districts send names of five nominees to the governor, who selects one from each district.

They then have to be confirmed by the Kentucky Senate. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is funded entirely by fishing, hunting, and boating fees and licenses with federal matching funds in specific instances.

“Under the leadership of Commissioner Storm, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has made tremendous strides towards accountability and transparency. Without a doubt we have a stronger response to the Asian carp issue in Western Kentucky. I would hope that the fact the administration wants to renew the contract for one year rather than two does not preview another attempt to sweep the Asian carp fund,” Koch said.

In the letter, legislators stressed Storm’s work as a steward of the Department’s resources. Under Storm, the Department’s Fish and Game Fund has more than doubled, increasing from $9.1 million to more than $28 million.