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Progress leads to end of an Oregon tradition

The advent of the new fishing and hunting license system in Oregon is doing away with one of the state's traditions.

The plastic bi-fold license and tag-holders passed out by outdoors stores to license-buyers for decades are not compatible with the paper on which licenses and tags are printed beginning this year.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife license managers are recommending that Oregonians don't use the plastic license holders because they can react with the license paper and cause the ink to fade.

The new paper is tear-resistent and reasonably waterproof, but it should not be in constant contact with plastic or be laminated.

"In a way, it's a step forward because they're tear-resistant and somewhat waterproof," says Meg Kenagy, an ODFW communications coordinator who has worked on the installation of the new system. "But you have to carry it differently. You have to carry it like a receipt."

News of the change caught Oregon's sporting-goods merchants flat-footed this week.

At the Black Bird Shopping Center in Medford, buyer Mike McMullen was about to order 5,000 of the plastic holders just before he heard of the paper problem.

"We've been giving these away since 1965, and after all these years something like this comes into play," McMullen says. "I know guys who use these as wallets. It's amazing."

DeAnna Erickson, the ODFW's license services manager, says people should carry their licenses in their wallets or use a paper Tyvek license-holder.

Tyvek is a synthetic fiber used for everything from house-wrap to wristbands and Express Mail envelopes at the U.S. Postal Service.

The ODFW has ordered 100,000 Tyvek holders, which will be available free at ODFW offices by mid-February, Erickson says.

McMullen, who annually gives out about 10,000 holders with the Black Bird logo as well as the logos of co-sponsors, says he's looking for distributor with Tyvek license sleeves.

"It's a change and we're definitely asking people to do something different," Kenagy says. "It's a challenge."Tennessee-based Outdoors Central has a new contract with the ODFW to operate the new system and outfit the roughly 500 license agents statewide that use it. Outdoors Central uses the same system and license paper in 20 other states, including Washington.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.