Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Senator Lamar Alexander (TN) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) recently announced a permanent funding solution for three regional trout hatcheries in Tennessee and Georgia. Previously only fully funded through 2016, Tennessee’s Erwin National Fish Hatchery and Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery, as well as Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery in Georgia will now permanently remain open at current funding levels.
The TVA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and Tennessee and Georgia state fish and wildlife agencies agreed to collaboratively fund the hatcheries. Specifically, the TVA will provide funding for more than one million trout in the hatcheries, the FWS will fund the hatchery infrastructure, and the state fish and wildlife agencies will be responsible for funding the transportation and care for the trout.
This funding agreement is essential to local and state economies as well as anglers across the country who rely on these mitigation hatcheries to stock trout in the cold tail-water of dams. More than 256,000 anglers are estimated to fish for trout in Tennessee and Georgia waters each year, with an economic impact of $45 million annually. For every $1 invested in the hatchery programs, anglers spend an additional $73.
This is a step in the right direction for anglers across the country as fish hatcheries within the National Fish Hatchery System are facing challenges with federal funding as the FWS begins to shift priorities away from sportfish propagation.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?