Federal Mitigation Hatcheries Closing?

Are some of America’s premier river fisheries going from dam to doom? Looks like that’s a live option, given recent chatter about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s plans to close some, if not all of its mitigation hatcheries — the federally mandated facilities built to assuage the loss of native fisheries caused by federal dams.

The threat of hatchery closures is nothing new — the FWS has stated that budget constraints may require hatchery closures for several years. However, the Fishing Wire recently brought the issue front and center with reports that South Dakota’s historic D.C. Booth Hatchery would go dark on Oct. 1.

Built in 1896, this facility houses the agency’s archives with freshwater aquatic research dating back to the earliest work of the National Fish Hatchery System, founded in 1871. If this one’s on the chopping block, the big picture isn’t pretty.

On the question of possible FWS hatchery closures, the Outdoor Wire quoted Laury Parramore from the agency’s Office of Communications as saying: “Leadership within the Service conducted an extensive review of propagation hatcheries within the NFHS to ensure we are best positioned to address the agency’s highest priority aquatic resource needs now and into the future. Outcomes from the review are now guiding a decision-making process toward more strategic, priority-driven investments and operating our hatcheries within available funds.”

Doesn’t exactly rhyme with “closure,” but it sounds like they’re knocking on the door. With the government’s interest in the hook-and-bullet industry losing ground daily, sportsmen will want to keep any eye on this issue.

CC image from Flickr