Cook Calls for Executive Director’s Resignation and New Business Plan for PA Fish and Boat Commission
HARRISBURG — Rep. Bud Cook (R-Washington/Fayette), a member of the House Game and Fisheries and Tourism and Recreational Development committees, sent the following letter to Gov. Tom Wolf calling for the resignation, or removal, of Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director John Arway and a new business plan to bring more anglers and boaters into the Commonwealth:

“Dear Governor Wolf:

“I have listened to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) continue to push for a fee increase. As a businessman, I am open to hearing both sides of a story and reviewing a business plan.

“When I was approached multiple times earlier in the year to support a fee increase, I requested a plan to increase the number of fishermen and boaters in the state. The agency had no plan and was waiting on a business plan to be provided to them by Penn State University.

“Since that time, other legislators and myself have been attacked and criticized by the executive director for not voting for a fee increase despite not having a plan. There was no discussion about children not receiving outdoor education in our schools, no discussion about the state population increasing but our number of fishermen continuing to decline, and no discussion about the direct correlation between declining fishing usage in the state and increased drug abuse. When people are filling their time with positive things, they are less likely to bring negativity into their lives.

“Recently, an article was released by the PFBC identifying stocking locations and hatcheries that would be closed if the legislature did not approve a fee increase. Below is communications of a fellow Representative to a PFBC Commissioner.

‘I did in fact meet with Executive Director John Arway on Tuesday morning at his request…The discussion centered on recent actions by the PFBC Board of Commissioners concerning the closing of fish hatcheries and reduced trout stocking in certain parts of the state.

‘Director Arway admitted that decisions regarding the reduction of trout stocking were being made around the state based on whether state legislators in certain areas support a license increase for the commission. As the discussion continued, Director Arway further stated, ‘we have to take care of our friends who support us.’

‘Commissioner, I have served in elected office for several years, so very little surprises me. But I will say that I was surprised, dismayed and disappointed that the executive director of a state agency would admit to playing politics in direct conflict with the mission of the agency for which he works.

‘Commissioner, do you support this type of political gamesmanship at the PFBC? Do your fellow commissioners support this political gamesmanship and statements made by the Executive Director? Is this what you call leadership?

‘I am committed to working with my colleagues in the Legislature and the PFBC Board of Commissioners to address the long-term fiscal issues facing the commission. However, the statements and actions of your executive director are so concerning that I question the competency of the leadership of this commission.

‘Since you decided to share your email with all of my colleagues in the State House, I am happy to share my comments and concerns with them as well.

‘I welcome the opportunity to further discuss and look forward to your response.’

“It has become apparent that the PFBC has a failing business plan and is being run with political motives. I represent the people, our children, the fishermen, the boaters, the recreational enthusiasts and everyone who can use a better quality of life.

“As the PFBC has declined, the drug epidemic and economic impact has been adversely affected. It is clear the PFBC is operating with a political vendetta and that vendetta by the executive director leaves me no option but to request his immediate resignation or removal. The constituents and I have personally experienced political attacks such as these in the 49th District!

“The alternative option would be to merge the PFBC and the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) and create a combined agency that is efficient and truly serves the best interest of the Commonwealth’s people, wildlife, and tourists. A study was completed showing a $5 million dollar savings with the merger of the PGC and PFBC.

“I propose expanding the merger by pulling the Tourism Agency from the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), and placing a portion of the Tourism Agency under the new combined agency and the rest going into the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

“We have too many recreational assets that are being ignored, lacking investment and lacking promotion. A better tomorrow starts with making a good decision today!”

Representative Bud Cook
49th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact: (724) 669-2242 /