"There's virtually no money left to continue capital projects," Gaudette said.

The state has eliminated about 500 buoys and markers and cut staff, but it did little to slow the drain on the fund.

House Bill 1307, which will be heard by the Environmental Matters Committee, would raise $11.2 million, closing the budget gap by half.

If that means improvements for the Chesapeake Bay, Capt. "Walleye" Pete Dahlberg, a full-time fishing guide who also works part-time fishing striped bass commercially, said he is all for it. The increase to $125 for his boat represents about a quarter tank of gas.

"I don't have a problem with it, because what's a few more bucks," Dahlberg said. "I'm going to be on the water regardless, and would not be raising rates because of this."

Staff writers Lorraine Mirabella and Andrea Siegel contributed to this article


Proposed fees

The plan would raise registration fees for boats in Maryland from the current $24 two-year rate. The proposed fees depend on a vessel's length:

•Boats under 16 feet (71,702 in state): $50

•Boats from 16 to 32 feet (104,438 in state): $125

•Boats 32 to 45 feet (15,126 in state): $250

•Boats 45 to 65 feet (1,914 in state): $500

•Boats over 65 feet (52 in state): $700

SOURCE: Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Number of vessels in state are estimates.

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