By: Jim Matthews
The Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (DFW) hatchery system has been plagued with problems for the past few months. First, there was the announcement DFW would have to reduce its trout production poundage by 50 percent because of the budget. Last week, a whirling disease outbreak at three California trout hatcheries was announced, and it is likely to cut hatchery production by at least another 10 percent.
Well, there may be a glimmer of good news to go with the bad. While this year’s budgeting process is not final and no budget bill has been signed by the governor, the proposal for DFW is for an increase in the special hatchery fund to the tune of $800,000 for the next three years. That is a far cry from the $2 million per year DFW had been allocated the previous three years, but it was the loss of assured $2 million per year that led to DFW 50 percent cuts, pending a new budget that might not include any money from this fund.
“At this point, I’ll take it,” said Stafford Lehr, DFW’s fisheries branch chief.
If this proposed budget is approved by the legislature and signed by the governor, it will allow DFW to ramp up production and produce more fish for anglers, with those trout starting to show up in the pipeline by late this fall or winter. It will probably mean more catchable trout will be produced and some cut allotments restored.