Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Permanent Solution to Fish Hatchery Funding

by U.S. Rep, Rick Crawford, AR01: Originally, Mitigation Fish Hatcheries were built to make up for native fisheries destroyed when the Federal Government built large Water Development Projects, like the dams at Greers Ferry and Norfork. Commitments made by the Federal Government to the States helped minimize the damage to local economies and the tens of millions of dollars brought by sportsmen and anglers to small businesses and the often rural tax base.

Unlike many Western hatcheries, where the Federal Agencies that caused the need for mitigation were required to fund mitigation, the mostly southern and eastern mitigation hatcheries have had to rely on competing interests of Water Development Agencies and the US Fish and Wildlife Service for annual funding.

To help solve this problem, I introduced legislation earlier this month to provide a long term and reliable solution for funding mitigation fish hatcheries. Our 1st District of Arkansas is home to Norfork Lake National Mitigation Hatchery in Mountain Home and the Greers Ferry National Mitigation Hatchery in Heber Springs. Both of these hatcheries bring avid anglers from across to country to our region, and the economic impact is enormous.

The bill, H.R. 2235, The National Mitigation Fisheries Coordination Act, addresses the uncertainty of hatchery funding. In the past, different federal agencies have traded the responsibility of these hatcheries back and forth, and the uncertainty created by that current system (or lack thereof) keeps the hatcheries constantly concerned about remaining open. My bill would emulate the successful mitigation programs in the Western states by requiring Water Development Agencies to reimburse the hatcheries.

H.R. 2235 has two basic elements. First, it requires the Water Development Agencies who are causing the need for mitigation actually pay for that mitigation. Second, it requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to to develop long-term agreements with the Water Development Agencies that will satisfy the mitigation commitments the Water Development Agencies made to the states when the Water Development Projects were built.

The loss of once bountiful fisheries that had drawn anglers and sportsmen from around the country should always be compensated. As of now, funding is piecemeal and voluntary, but our bill would create a permanent fix that ensures the hatcheries are properly reimbursed for the loss of the original species when these projects were started.

Tags: Rick Crawford, permanent solution, fish hatchery funding, H.R. 2235, Fish Hatchery Mitigation Fisheries Coordination Act To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

2 comments:

Tammy Liberty Pope said...

I'm guessing taxes.

Bill Smith said...

Tammy, Did you read the article? As the article points out, there is no need for increased taxes. The money should come out of the revenue generated by the Feds selling the power generated. The Feds took and destroyed the warm river and they should have permanently established mitigation as they did nin the western states. In addition, the trout fishing generates a lot of federal funds from which we get no funding.