Written by: Josh Coursey, Muley Fanatic Foundation
January 1, 2019 not only marked a new year but also the availability of the newly released Wildlife Conservation license plate available to Wyoming motorists. Proceeds generated from the purchase of the license plate go to the recently created wildlife conservation account within the state highway fund.
Revenue from the account is allocated in a collaborated effort with the Wyoming Department of Transportation and the Wyoming Game & Fish Department. Expenditures are specifically defined to be spent on efforts related to the transportation system, including signage, wildlife corridors, wildlife crossings and game fences.
The determination to bring this license plate to fruition was a grassroots effort led by the Muley Fanatic Foundation after a joint mule deer summit was held in Pinedale in 2017 to identify the impacts limiting mule deer populations.
“We felt strongly following the summit that a lot of great discussion had taken place, but like a lot of other meetings, action was lacking. You have to start somewhere.”
-Joshua Coursey, MFF President/CEO
Coursey and the MFF team that is Headquartered in Green River reached out Representative Stan Blake to discuss the idea of creating a bill that would put the idea before the legislature. Representative Blake was receptive to the idea and House Bill 39 was drafted but as Coursey notes, the work was just getting started.
“This was a mountain to climb, not only was it a budget session, the number of other license plate bills that had gone before our governing body was far more than we had calculated. The notion of lawmakers being callused to another license plate bill is understatement. We had our work cut out for us and this was great effort to accomplish.”
“Representative Blake was a champion in this effort. His unwavering support and steadfast determination to see this bill through the legislative process was nothing short of stellar. There was an incredible amount of public support – from phone calls, letters, and emails – our state lawmakers heard from the people of Wyoming in support of HB39. When the dust settled, a good idea is a good idea regardless. We are very pleased with the outcome and the tremendous benefit it will provide beyond our living years,” said Coursey.
With several groups supporting the effort, Coursey maintains that the outreach from individual wildlife enthusiasts was the most important component. “Our citizen legislature is very approachable and the individual voice is enormous. The efforts to round up support and maintain momentum through the process of getting a bill to the Governor’s desk is no small task. While many organizations pledged support, the individual efforts to make their support known was monumental and, in my mind, the real difference maker.”
“Seeing this license plate now available is a big win for wildlife, hunters, anglers, and anyone who values safe roads and wildlife. By my account, that’s everyone. We had several folks sign a petition that we presented to the legislature last spring indicating that if passed they would purchase the plate when available. Now is the time to show our elected officials that this was a good idea and the support has not wavered. The only way we are going to do this is by seeing these plates all around Wyoming.”
-Joey Faigl, MFF Chief Operating Officer