KTLO News, State ownership of hatcheries not on radar says AGFC official

By: Richard Hester, 3/8/2011

With future funding and long-term operation of the National Fish Hatcheries at Norfork and Greer's Ferry uncertain, some have suggested the state should take over ownership and management of the facilities and fund them with increases in trout stamp prices. However, Mike Armstrong, Assistant Director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission--who recently suggested the federal government might be receptive to such an offer--said in reality state acquisition of the hatcheries is not even a topic of discussion at this time.

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The hatcheries were built to mitigate for the loss of native fish species when the Corps of Engineers built the dams. But the mitigation hatcheries were funded and operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for years until the Corps picked up the cost last year. Now the two, federal agencies are in a bureaucratic tussle over who will continue the funding.  Armstrong said the state is watching closely and wants the federal government to uphold its responsibility.

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Armstrong said his contacts with the Fish and Wildlife Service believe the funding issue will be resolved.

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As for the possible future shutdown of the two hatcheries, the assistant director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said that's not the message that's been conveyed to the state.

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Armstrong emphasized the importance of the hatcheries and the revenue that they help bring to the state.

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 Mike Armstrong, assistant director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, on proposals that the state should take over ownership of the Norfork and Greers Ferry federal fish hatcheries.

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