|A stocked rainbow is released back into a - gasp - Montana river.|
And yet the state of Arizona could potentially lose its allocation of the Sport Fish Restoration funds that support the state's hatchery programs. If the trout stocking program in the Grand Canyon State is reduced or eliminated, it would be devastating to the state's trout fisheries. Recruitment of younger generations of anglers would undoubtedly suffer due to reduced opportunity. Local economies would feel the effects of fewer visiting anglers. The state's remaining fisheries (including its beloved wild brown trout streams) would experience more angling pressure.
Here is some background on the issue from the AZ Game & Fish (AGFD) website:
Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), federal agencies are required to analyze potential environmental effects of any action they propose to implement, approve, or fund. Because AGFD receives federal funds [$7 million in 2011] used to support its stocking program (along with state funds from the sale of licenses and trout stamps), the agency is required to complete an environmental assessment process to allow it to continue receiving those federal funds. This draft EA is a part of the federally required NEPA compliance.
“In a way, we do a balancing act,” said AGFD Fisheries Chief Kirk Young. “On one hand, Game and Fish wants to provide the public with enjoyable fishing opportunities, which create a huge economic benefit to the state. Yet on the other hand, as a wildlife agency, we also need to consider and manage for the needs of nongame and threatened and endangered wildlife, including native fish. Our proposed conservation and mitigation measures enable us to do that.”
|AZ's Oak Creek - one of 66 fisheries effected by the "Reduced Stocking Alt."|
If you'd like to see the trout stocking program in Arizona continue, submit a comment supporting the Proposed Action by May 11th. You can find a link to the EA here: http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/fishea.shtml