Fish And Wildlife Service Continues Efforts To Recover Annual Cost Of Raising Fish To Offset Impacts From Federal Water Projects

Thursday, December 20, 2012 - by Elsie Davis

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed secure funding agreements with many federal agencies and regional utilities to enable the agency to continue raising and stocking fish in streams affected by federal water development projects and power generation activities. However, unless a similar agreement is reached soon with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to cover fish rearing and stocking operations in Tennessee and Georgia, the Service will be forced to halt this work on behalf of the TVA. 

For more than four decades, the Service has used its own funds to work with state fish and wildlife agencies, tribal governments and other partners to lessen the impact of dams and other water development projects that have contributed to the decline of native fisheries by impairing stream flows and water quality. But increasing costs and budget constraints have made it impossible for the Service to fund this work in the future. 

Anticipating this crisis, the Service has worked for more than three years to secure agreements with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration that provide most of the funding needed for this work through the end of fiscal year 2013. Ongoing discussions have yielded no similar agreement with TVA, a federally owned corporation created by congressional charter during the Great Depression to provide navigation, flood control and electricity generation in the Tennessee Valley. 

If the Service cannot reach an agreement with TVA by April 1, 2013, to provide nearly $1 million in annual operational funding, the agency will not be able to produce fish for delivery in fiscal year 2014.

“The fish supplied by our hatcheries play a critical role in reducing the impacts of water development and power generation activities on many stream systems, while also providing important economic and recreational benefits to local communities.  We want to continue providing these benefits, but our hatchery system is stretched to the breaking point,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “We simply cannot continue to absorb these costs, and need TVA to step up and accept financial responsibility for keeping fish in rivers impacted by its operations.”

Mr. Ashe emphasized that the agency continues to talk with representatives of the TVA in hope of reaching an agreement.

The Service operates three national fish hatcheries that provide fish to mitigate the impacts of TVA projects.  Two hatcheries are located in Tennessee and a third in North Georgia.

The Service has broad support for its efforts to have agencies and utilities pay to address the impacts of their operations. Congress, the White House Office of Management and Budget and key partners have each recognized that these agencies and utilities are the most appropriate funding source and encouraged the development of funding agreements.

“Many of the same citizens that depend on the power generated by these projects also want to know their rivers will be fishable when they head out with their rods, reels and fishing buddies,” said Mr. Ashe. “The Fish and Wildlife Service has worked for more than 140 years to protect and restore our nation’s freshwater fisheries, and we understand how important the Tennessee Valley is as a source of recreation, economic development and wildlife habitat.” 

Recreational fishing generates billions of dollars annually for local economies across the nation, while providing thousands of jobs.  To learn more about the economic contributions of the Service’s national fish hatcheries, please view this report:  http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2011/pdf/FisheriesEconomicReport.pdf.


Tennessee State Parks To Host Public Input Hearing At Booker T. Washington State Park

Leaders from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation will be conducting a public hearing at Booker T. Washington State Park on Thursday, Dec. 4, to gather public input and discuss the current business and management plan for the park.  The event will begin at  5:30 p.m.  with an open house reception to meet park staff and view exhibits. The ... (click for more)

SORBA Chattanooga Announces 2015 Race Series Schedule

SORBA (Southern Off-Road Biking Association) Chattanooga announced the Race Series schedule for 2015. Registration for all races opens on Dec. 1 . Pick Your Poison, a cross country race at Booker T. Washington State Park; Soul Sucker, which has a 25k and 50k option held at Raccoon Mountain; the Raccoon Mountain Super D, a downhill race; Night Shift, the six-hour twilight race ... (click for more)

2 People Critically Injured In North Chattanooga House Fire

For the second time in three days, a house fire has resulted in tragedy with two people critically injured in North Chattanooga. At 10:13 a.m. on Wednesday, Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched to a reported house fire with entrapment at 220 Houser St. The first firefighters on the scene saw flames shooting out windows and part of the roof. Having been told that people ... (click for more)

Kiser Post-Conviction Hearing To Resume April 6

A post-conviction hearing in which Marlon Duane Kiser is seeking a new trial in the 2001 slaying of Deputy Donald Bond will resume April 6. Attorneys for Kiser, who is on Death Row, said they have additional witnesses to call. Kiser on Tuesday took the witness stand for the first time, blaming the killing on the man he was living with at the time - Mike Chattin. Chattin, who ... (click for more)

Why Ferguson Matters In Chattanooga

The recent verdict in Ferguson has thrown race relations in the spotlight again. It is far too easy to get caught up in the debate as to who was right. But the plain fact is that the community lost, the police force lost and the nation lost. So why does Ferguson matter in Chattanooga? Because a police force mainly composed of whites got into a conflict with a community mainly ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Grand Thanksgiving Feast

I’m not really sure how it all came about but a few days before Thanksgiving last year, what was usually a crowded table had dwindled down to just Mother, Aunt Martha and me. Just the idea of getting dressed up made both of them tired, which happens when you are 89 and 87, respectively, and the thought of preparing the traditional feast brought only further groans so I announced ... (click for more)