Leadville Hatchery Gains Support at State Capitol
There’s always hope, when it comes to fishing. And that’s exactly what showed up at the Colorado State Capitol last Friday, March 7, as both the Senate and House passed SJR 14-017, a joint resolution concerning National Fish Hatcheries in Colorado. It’s a (fishing) line of hope for the Leadville National Fish Hatchery (LNFH).
Ultimately, this joint resolution acts as a strong show of support for National Fish Hatcheries in Colorado. The resolution was authored by Senator Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass Village) and Representative Millie Hamner (D-Dillon) and cleared both houses last Friday.
“The Leadville National Fish Hatchery is dedicated to the important work of preserving and restoring populations of the greenback cutthroat trout, Colorado’s state fish,” stated Sen. Schwartz via social media on Friday. “I have been proud to work on behalf of these important resources, both located in Senate District 5.” The other National Fish Hatchery in SD5 is located in Hotchkiss, Colo.
The uncertain future of these hatcheries began to unfold last fall, when a media advisory released Nov. 15, 2013 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that, while it does not intend to close any of the nation’s national fish hatcheries in the current fiscal year (2013), closures may be necessary in FY 2015 given fiscal uncertainty and growing operations costs.
That official announcement led to local advocacy groups like the Friends of the Leadville Fish Hatchery, to mobilize support efforts, including a tour of the Leadville facility for elected officials on Nov. 25, 2013. Sen. Schwartz and Rep. Hamner were among those in attendance as LNFH Manager Ed Stege gave the group an extensive, informative tour, including the hatchery’s multiuse benefits to the Lake County community.
But ultimately, the current budget climate continues to keep these federal facilities on the proverbial chopping block. Will they survive? Will they remain open?
“These hatcheries are important for conservation, recreation, and funding in our State, and we urge the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to continue the operation of these valuable facilities,” stated Sen. Schwartz regarding the resolution.
And while SJR 14-017 holds no legal or decision-based authority, it does formally expresses the will and sentiment of both (Colorado) houses on the matter. But will the feds see it that way? Stay tuned!