Congressman Rick Crawford introduces Mitigation Hatchery Bill

Today, Congressman Rick Crawford introduced legislation to provide a long term and reliable solution for funding mitigation fish hatcheries operations.  Crawford’s First Congressional District is home to the Norfork Lake National Mitigation Hatchery in Mountain Home and the Greers Ferry National Mitigation Hatchery in Heber Springs.

“The Norfork and Greers Fairy mitigation hatcheries play a crucial role in the tourism industry of the First District,” said Crawford. “Tens of thousands of sportsmen and women visit our rivers and stream areas every year to enjoy world-class fly fishing.  Ensuring that these mitigation hatcheries are taken care of in a responsible manner is critical to these local economies in North central Arkansas.”

Crawford’s bill, H.R. 2261, The National Mitigation Fisheries Coordination Act of 2013, addresses the uncertainty that has been created by federal agencies who have juggled the responsibility of these hatcheries back and forth over the last several years.  The National Mitigation Fisheries Coordination Act of 2013 will mimic the successful mitigation programs in the Western United States by requiring Water Development Agencies to reimburse for the costs associated with fulfilling commitments the Federal Government made to states for the destructive affects constructing federal water development projects has had on local fisheries.

“The businesses that have developed over the last several decades that support the ever growing fly fishing and outdoors-oriented tourism of both Mountain Home and Heber Springs need the certainty that my bill provides for the mitigation hatchery program.  Thousands of jobs and well over 100 million dollars of annual economic impact depend on it.  Congress needs to ensure that there is a long term and reliable source of funding for these mitigation hatcheries.  These communities have done their part and now it is time for Congress to do theirs.”

H.R. 2261, The National Mitigation Fisheries Coordination Act of 2013 has two basic elements:

1. A requirement that the Water Development Agencies causing the need for mitigation pay for the mitigation.

2. Requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work with the Water Development Agencies to develop long-term agreements that will satisfy the commitments for mitigation the Water Development Agencies made to the states where Water Development Projects were built.