Skip to comments.Trout crusade goes to Washington: Angius presents county’s case for return of stocking program
Posted on 04/14/2014 9:34:08 PM PDT by Hildy
BULLHEAD CITY Mohave County will explore every avenue to keep the 50-year-old Willow Beach Fish Hatchery Rainbow Trout Stocking Program going, said District 2 Mohave County Sup. Hildy Angius, R-Bullhead City. Angius also serves as Board of Supervisors chairwoman. In March, Angius submitted documents to the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee and as a result was invited to testify before the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies on Thursday.
Angius paid for the trip to Washington from her Board of Supervisors travel allowance.
Angius said she made the right decision in testifying.
It was better than I even had hoped for, because I really believe that they got the issue, that they know about it and that they want to help us. That was my impression, she said. Now I know them. I would feel comfortable calling them up and following up. And theyre the ones who decide where the money goes and now were going to see who really runs Washington.
Angius was given five minutes to make her case. Here are excerpts from her testimony:
We believe that the (U.S. Fish and Wildlife) Service is acting contrary to law, public policy and science, and is doing so without sufficient public participation and transparency. I ask this subcommittee to prioritize resources to help restore the Willow Beach Rainbow Trout Stocking Program and the economic stimulus it provides to my region ... The hatchery was established in 1962 to raise rainbow trout for release into the lower Colorado River system to help mitigate for impacts to that system from the construction and operation of the Hoover and Davis dams. The hatchery was established pursuant to the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act and a 1959 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. That 1959 MOU is still in effect today.
According to a study prepared for the Arizona Department of Fish and Game, recreational fishing within Mohave County in 2001 alone contributed $74.5 million to the local economy and supported approximately 1,682 jobs, numbers that we believe have remained the same or increased since that time. It would be hard to imagine a more effective federal stimulus program for our region.
On November 24, 2013, Mohave County learned that the Service was terminating the rainbow trout propagation program at the Willow Beach Hatchery. The Service claims that it lacks sufficient funds to repair a broken water line that delivers water from Lake Mohave to the trout ponds at the hatchery. The Service has known since 2010 that its water delivery system was in need of maintenance, but failed to take corrective measures. My county is now suffering because of that failure. In fact, the Services incompetence in managing the water delivery system resulted in the death of over 60,000 fish this past year. That tragedy was completely avoidable. Now the Service is claiming that it has no choice but to eliminate the entire trout program because it cannot afford to fix a pipe. Mohave County believes that the estimates to fix that pipe are greatly exaggerated.
The Service will tell you that they arent shutting down the Willow Beach Hatchery. Thats true. But going forward, they will spend all available funding on raising endangered bonytail chubs and razorback suckers using an alternative water supply. While endangered species recovery efforts are obviously worthwhile, Mohave County has been struggling to understand where the service gets its authority to unilaterally alter the fundamental purpose of this critical mitigation hatchery. David Hoskins, Assistant Director for Fish and Aquatic Conservation, has told me that it was a 2002 congressional policy change that altered the focus of the nations mitigation fish hatcheries. Although I have requested it, I have not been provided, nor have I seen, any evidence of that being true. Instead, we fear the service is attempting to shift the blame for the economic crisis currently threatening my county onto Congress.
We also fear that the service is ignoring its legal obligations to evaluate potentially serious environmental effects associated with terminating trout operations. Rainbow trout are a food source for striped bass or stripers as we call them locally. If that food source is taken away, the stripers are likely to prey on bonytail chub or other endangered species. This probability was confirmed by a senior Fish and Wildlife Service official in February. Federal agencies are required by law to evaluate the environmental, economic and socioeconomic consequences of their actions before taking action. We are not aware of any NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act) analysis that has been performed by the service to support its decision. Any decision to shut down the program requires careful evaluation and study and certainly a lot more public and stakeholder engagement than what has been provided to date which has been zero ...
We respectfully request that immediate steps be taken to prioritize the use of existing resources to fix the pipe and resume the trout stocking program. Please take action to ensure that the Service cant unilaterally circumvent Congress by prioritizing suckers over trout. Please fulfill the mitigation commitments that were made to communities along the Colorado River over 52 years ago.
The photo above is me and my wonderful congressman, Dr. Paul Gosar who came to lend me moral support. He’s one of the good ones.
By the way, the Cattle, the wolves, the trout..they are all related. We MUST get our public lands transferred to local control. What I learned in Washington is that our elected officials aren’t the ones calling the shots. It is the unelected bureaucrats. If we don’t get this pipe fixed, it is only because US Fish and Wildlife does not want it fixed. It is not an expensive fix. And for those who will say, take care of your own trout...We want to. They won’t even let us do that. Interesting that BLM wants the Bundy’s to follow the law, but US Fish and Wildlife, in this case, is not following the law. How very CONVENIENT.
Thank God that they don’t have Rustler Reid in County.
Back in the day Willow Beach and Black Canyon was an awesome trout fishery. Monster Rainbows in the cold tail waters of Hover Dam and the hatchery drove this. Now it only provides food for striped bass.
Years of poor management and bad policy.
Actually, Senator Reid has stated that he is on our side on this one. He did write a letter. I am finding out that Senators like writing letters. Everyone likes writing letters...doesn’t get anything done, but they will certainly write a letter.
I’m curious as to why FWS wants to quit raising trout to concentrate on trash fish. What is the motivation?
Endangered species is how the government is controlling the land. Under that act, they can come in and declare as must land as they want off limits to humans. Ultimately, we believe, they want to cut off access to our part of the Colorado River. What’s not in my testimony is that those two fish have a less than 1% survival rate. That is THEIR OWN NUMBER. With the trout gone it won’t even be that much. It is a complete disaster. Almost a joke if it weren’t so sad for us all. The whole Bundy Ranch thing blew up because of the “endangered” desert tortoise that is destroying so many people’s lives.
Enough of them escaped the stripers that I always caught my limit. I miss trout fishing at Willow Beach.
You’ll fish trout there again. I promise.
How long ago was all of that?