Crawford Introduces Permanent Hatchery Funding Fix

Earlier this month, Congressman Rick Crawford introduced legislation to provide a long term and reliable solution for funding mitigation fish hatcheries. Crawford’s 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.

Crawford’s 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. Crawford’s bill would emulate the successful mitigation programs in the Western states by requiring Water Development Agencies to reimburse the hatcheries.

“Water Development Agencies created development projects that resulted in the loss of once bountiful fisheries that had drawn anglers and sportsmen from around the country,” Congressman Rick Crawford explained. “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.”

H.R. 2235 has two basic elements.

1. Requires the Water Development Agencies who are causing the need for mitigation actually pay for that mitigation.

2. 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.