Congressman Rick Crawford (AR-1) issued the following statement after receiving assurances from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service that, in response to the letter he authored last week, there will be no imminent closures of mitigation hatchery facilities, and that funds would be repurposed to ensure the facilities are adequately funded:
“This is great news for Arkansas, and I am proud to have been a leader to save funding for our mitigation hatcheries. These facilities perform a critical function in replenishing our streams and rivers that federal locks and dams have depopulated. In addition, the mitigation hatcheries in Greers Ferry and Norfork return one hundred dollars for every dollar invested, and provide well over a thousand direct and indirect jobs in Arkansas’ First District.
“I am pleased the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has reached out to assure me that there will be no imminent closures of mitigation hatcheries, and that funding will be repurposed to ensure there are no shortfalls for these critical facilities. Additionally, they have acquiesced to the request in the letter I authored with several of my colleagues last week that any changes to the mitigation program will be subject to a lengthy and thorough public review process including all stakeholders. With this commitment from the Department of the Interior and the Fish & Wildlife Service, I will continue to work toward a permanent solution so the jobs supported by these facilities will be secure.”
Last week, Congressman Crawford led a letter cosigned by the entire Arkansas delegation, as well as colleagues from Tennessee and Georgia, addressed to Interior Secretary Jewell defending funding for mitigation hatcheries across the country – the letter is attached. There are two mitigation hatcheries in Arkansas’ First District – Norfork and Greers Ferry, which provide a combined $150 million in annual economic output and 1,600 jobs. Attached is an economic fact sheet from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service outlining the economic impact of these two facilities and return on investment. Congressman Crawford’s bill, H.R. 2261, the National Mitigation Fisheries Coordination Act, was introduced in June and would protect funding for the facilities under U.S. Fish & Wildlife. A summary of the legislation is attached, as well.