Rumors are thick as summer mayflies that federal budget woes might lead to the closure of some federal trout hatcheries across the Southeast and possibly beyond. If the rumors are to be believed, cold water tailraces from the Norfork to the South Holston could see trout stocking rates plummet.
It would be foolish to ignore the federal debt. I’m not an economist but anyone who can add and subtract can see that the problems are real and they are serious. There are only two choices: Uncle Sam must learn to live within his means or raise more money.
When quizzed about the rising debt and cutting spending I often hear our politicians spout that, “Everything is on the table.” I’m sure everything is on the table. I’m also sure that everybody (myself included) wants budget cuts so long as the cutting is done in someone else’s neighborhood.
If some cold water hatcheries are on the federal chopping block – and they might be – I hope the decision makers will remember that it takes money to make money. I have no idea what the annual operating budget would be for a federal trout hatchery. I do know that trout fishermen travel. We spend money. We shop at Strange Bait Company in Burkesville and Fulton’s Blue Ribbon Flies in Mountain Home. We pay guides and buy gasoline and purchase tackle and patron restaurants and bars and stay in local hotels and campgrounds. We won’t do these things if the hatcheries are dark.
Do budgets need to be tightened? Of course.
Should hatcheries that pump fish into rivers and by association funnel sportsman’s dollars into areas badly in need of them be lobbed off with the federal budget knife. This doesn’t seem wise.
Elected leaders: Please be frugal. But please be reasonable. Remember that sportsmen pay to play. We also vote.