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Trout Hatcheries - Current Threats Bookmark and Share
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Well, here we go again for 2013!  Yes, the battle is back on as once again the lack of a permanent solution for funding of mitigation hatcheries threatens the nation's cold-water fisheries.

We created this web page last year when the issue came to a head, and thanks you all of you that helped and some great elected officials, we were successful in appropriating funding for 2012. 

Even though the information below is from last year, the statistics are still accurate & relevant.  It also gives a good high level overview on the issue as a whole.

Additionally, on our blog at, we present the latest announcement from the Friends of the Norfork National Fish Hatchery.  Check it out for even more information and new form letters so you can help, too!


If I asked you to give me $1, promising to give you a return of between $95 and $113 by year’s end, would you do it? I imagine most of you could not get your check books out fast enough.

Now, what if I told you that a federal project with a proven track record of generating these kinds of returns is in jeopardy? Would it frighten you to know that I'm talking about Federal Fish Hatcheries? Would you think someone has lost their fool mind???

Now that I have your attention, let me talk to you a little bit about the President’s 2012 budget cuts.

The President's 2012 Budget Cut that was announced in February, 2011 has a devastating impact on our National Fisheries Division, however the most immediate and dramatic impact is to Mitigation Hatcheries. In other words, our cold water National Fish Hatcheries – it's where the trout come from, folks.

The first thing I guess I ought to explain is "Mitigation". Mitigation is the concept of the ongoing restitution for something that was taken. In our case on the White River, we once had a world-class bass fishery. The dams were needed to protect people's safety & to protect property. However, the bass could not handle the cold water and moved up into the Buffalo or feeder creeks.

So, a bargain was struck to provide "mitigation" in the form of providing a species of fish that could thrive in the current River conditions. The Corps of Engineers and other entities have historically paid this, along with funding from the US Fish & Wildlife Services. This funding is largely what made trout stocking possible for the last 50+ years.

What does this mean to recreational Trout Fishing in the state of Arkansas?

If we allow this insanity to come to fruition, the worst-case scenario is simple -- NO TROUT.  Get concerned, get mad, read on, and I'll tell you how to help further down the page...

Let's Look at the Economic Impacts of Trout Production in Arkansas

Hatchery Retail Expenditures** Jobs  Generated Job Income State & Local Tax Revenue
Greer's Ferry $36,208,924 752 $19,563,922 $2,157,387
Norfork $47,845,369 994 $25,851,171 $2,850,706
Hatchery Fed Income Tax Total Economic Output* Recreational Fish Stocked 2010 FWS Operational Budget for 2010
Greer's Ferry $2,380,446 $68,434,866 $1,505,351 $606,000
Norfork $3,145,449 $90,427,747 $1,728,755 $952,000

 *Total Economic Output: the production value of all output generated by trout angling expenditures. Total output includes the direct, indirect & induced effects of trout angling expenditures.

**Retail Expenditures: angling expenditures associated with the recreational catch of the trout stocked.

The Greers Ferry National Fish Hatchery enhances recreational fishing opportunities in waters that have been modified by Federal water development projects in Arkansas & Oklahoma. This has provided an enormous economic boost to the economy of many of these areas, generating business & income for people & local governments. These expenditures are for recreation-related goods & services such as lodging and food, transportation, boats, fishing equipment and other gear used by the fishing public

A recent study completed in 2010 by Dr. James Caudill and Dr. John Charbonneau, entitled "An Assessment of Economic Contributions from Fisheries & Aquatic Source Conservation" clearly identified these annual economic benefits (based on $2010).

Using the above 2010 data and considering just the Total Economic Output and FWS Operational Budget Numbers:

• Greers Ferry: for Every $1 of Operational Budget, $113 Was Put Back into the Economy.
• Norfork NFH: for Every $1 of Operational Budget, $95 Was Put Back into the Economy.

It's not just Federal Fish Hatcheries in Arkansas that are threatened, either...

The 22% budget cut will potentially affect the following cold-water operations: Garrison Dam Hatchery, Neosho Hatchery, Wolf Creek hatchery, Erwin Hatchery (where most of the nation's trout eggs come from, including ours!), Chattahoochee Hatchery, Dale Hollow Hatchery, & the Jones Hole Hatchery, in addition to Greers Ferry Hatchery & the Norfork Fish Hatchery.

What can I do to help protect the Federal Hatcheries?

Big Picture:  By far, the best outcome would be a FEDERAL, FULLY-FUNDED, PERMANENT SOLUTION to provide for these mitigation hatcheries.  And it's going to take an effort on both state and federal levels to make that happen.  Yes, it's federal $$$ in question, but in AR, our State Reps & Senators have already been very helpful.  So, shake it up and contact them all!

If you live in Arkansas, use these links to contact the following US Senators & Reps.  You can click on the "form letter" links to copy and paste suggested text to your own letters to send.  (If you do not live in Arkansas, you can use the form letters as a template and send them to your own.)

US Senator (from Arkansas) John Boozman (contact)  (form letter)
US Senator (from Arkansas) Mark Pryor (contact) (form letter)
US Representative (from Arkansas) District 1 - Rick Crawford (contact)  (form letter)
US Representative (from Arkansas) District 2 - Timothy Griffin (contact)  (form letter)
US Representative (from Arkansas) District 3 - Steve Womack (contact)  (form letter)
US Representative (from Arkansas) District 4 - Mike Ross (contact)  (form letter)

Not sure of your Arkansas Congressional District?  Click here

There are folks who have already begun the movement by creating online petitions to help save the funding for the hatcheries.  There are probably more, but I would recommend signing these online petitions while you're at it -- (sign petition1)  and this one, too -- (sign petition2)

What Arkansas has done so far to help protect the Hatcheries...

Special thanks to our AR State Rep. from District 86, Kelley Linck, for turnin' up the heat!  He helped draft and push through the AR House Resolution 1014 (pdf).  For more info on HR 1014, click here. The accompanying Senate Version, SB8, has also been introduced.

We all need FRIENDS...

On the front lines of this battle, are our friends at the Friends of the Norfork National Fish Hatchery.  Please consider a membership with this group.  Battles like this are why they exist, and they are working hard on this issue. 

Another group you might consider joining is the Friends of the North Fork & White Rivers.  More of a "watch-dog" group, these folks are very active in helping protect our rivers. 

Want to learn more about this issue?

I'll update this section as I come across more info to share -- check back often!

Mitigation Fact Sheet, Trout Reduction Impact, Norfork Economic Fact Sheet, KTLO Interview w/ AGFC

Letter from AR to Obama

Closing Thoughts on the Federal Fish Hatchery Budget Cuts...

There is a lot of information circling, as you might imagine.  Although other solutions may be bantered about as these discussions ensue, I personally think it's really important to focus on a FEDERAL, FULLY-FUNDED, PERMANENT SOLUTION. 

Please let me know if any additions, deletions/corrections are necessary - send email to

Thanks Again!

Julie Raines, Your White River Trout Diva...


Guided Spin Fishing    Guided Fly Fishing    Our Stretch of River    River Flow    John Boats    Canoe&Kayak

Good Fishin’ -- Julie