[env-trinity] Mad River Hatchery Back In the Steelhead Business
danielbacher at hotmail.com
Tue Jan 18 15:04:58 PST 2005
Mad River Hatchery Back In The Steelhead Business
by Dan Bacher
The Mad River Fish Hatchery is again spawning and raising steelhead this
year, due to a unique state-private partnership, according to Ryan
Broddrick, Department of Fish and Game Director.
Broddrick was one in a lineup of star speakers at the Anglers Caucus on
January 15 at the Fred Hall Fishing Tackle & Boat Show at the Cow Palace in
I just got back from Blue Lakes, where I spawned the first steelhead to be
spawned under the new partnership, said Broddrick. After the hatchery was
mothballed because of budget cuts in 2003, I made a challenge to the locals
to raise the funds for the hatchery. They met the challenge and raised the
funds necessary to put the hatchery back in business.
Under a memorandum of agreement signed in December, the DFG and Friends of
the Mad River Fish Hatchery will provide the necessary funding, personnel,
and volunteers to operate the hatchery this year.
Because of severe budget cuts, the Mad River Fish Hatchery took its last
adult steelhead in the winter of 2002 and released its last yearlings in
This partnership allows the communities around Mad River Hatchery, through
their participation, to provide significant economic, educational, and
recreational benefits, said Broddrick. I am truly impressed with the
dedication of the local communities to make this partnership a reality.
This is not the first time that the Mad River Hatchery has faced a crisis.
In 1994, the hatchery was put on the chopping block by then DFG Director
However, Larry Williams of the Northern California Association of River
Guides, Howard Bailey, a board member of United Anglers, myself and other
anglers waged a campaign to keep the hatchery open. Pressured by an
outpouring of phone calls and letters from dedicated steelhead anglers, the
DFG management decided to keep the facility open, although they reduced the
numbers of steelhead produced.
At a news conference at the hatchery, on January 12, Dave Varshock of the
Friends of Mad River, state Senator Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata) and Humboldt
County Supervisor Jill Geist joined Broderick in spawning some of the
steelhead that had entered the facility.
Under the agreement, the Friends of the Mad River Hatchery will provide
funding through a tax-exempt, non-profit corporation. The group also will
provide volunteers and additional resources necessary to operate and
maintain the hatchery.
The group will assure the DFG by the beginning of each December that
sufficient funds have been raised to produce a minimum of 150,000 yearling
steelhead before spawning any fish that year The conservation group has
raised $83,000 to date and plan to raise another $40,000 by December 2005
according to Friends president Dave Varshock.
DFG will assign a full time fisheries employee to oversee day-to-day
operation of the hatchery. This person will be based on-site and will train
and supervise volunteers, and respond to emergencies. DFG also will provide
additional staff to assist during peak activity periods, such as fish
During the Caucus, Tim Alpers, producer of the unique strain of Alpers
trophy rainbow trout that is stocked in lakes and streams throughout the
Eastern Sierra, also spoke about a public-private partnership formed in the
battle to keep the DFG's Hot Creek Fish Hatchery open. He emphasized the
importance of the hatchery in the national tradition of recreational
California is the largest market for recreational fishing in the U.S.,
said Alpers. When we heard the word two years ago about the states plans
to close the hatchery because of budget cuts, I got drafted by the locals to
keep the facility open.
Local business leaders and anglers decided to start a non-profit 5013C
private non-profit organization so that individuals, civic leaders and
organizations could donate to the group. With the non profit corporation,
we can embrace the best of both the private and public sectors, said
Alpers emphasized the key role of Hot Creek Hatchery in Californias trout
fishery. The hatchery provides 13 million fertile eggs per year 60 percent
of the fertile eggs needed for trout production in DFG hatcheries throughout
California. It provides 1.7 million catchable rainbows, 500,000 super trophy
brood stock trout, 700,000 subcatchable Kamloops trout and 500,000
fertilized Kamloops eggs to be distributed to the entire U.S.
Alpers also plans to expand the facilitys potential, making into a
beautiful tourist attraction. Hatcheries like Hot Creek are located at some
of the most beautiful places in the state, so we need to take advantage of
this, he explained.
Among other plans, he plans to convert some of the ponds at the facility to
kids fishing ponds to introduce more anglers to the joys of fishing. The
importance of the fisheries to our civilization to Americana and our
family traditions - is so important,
Roger Thomas, a member of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council and
president of the Golden Gate Fishermens Association, reviewed some of the
latest salmon fishery data from the council and the outlook for the upcoming
Recreational ocean anglers in 2003 landed 220,000 salmon in California
waters in 2004, in contrast with 93,000 fish in 2003, according to Thomas.
Adult chinook returns on the Sacramento this fall were 250,000 fish, meeting
the natural spawning goal of 120,000 to 180,000 natural spawners. The winter
run also continues to rebound, with 7,000 adults and 2,000 jacks recorded
On the other hand, Klamath River king salmon returns were poor, the legacy
of bad water management that favors subsidized agribusiness over fish, with
the final tally just missing the target goal of 33,000 natural spawners.
The ocean recreational fishery from Point Arena to the Mexican border will
open on April 2, with biologists predicting good fishing. However, the North
Coast salmon fishery outlook is less optimistic.
Because of the low adult returns, we could have problems with the salmon
fishery north of Point Arena, said Thomas. The only good thing is that the
Klamath jack counts were way up this season.
Other speakers at the event include Michael Kelly, Director of Constituent
Services at NOAA Fisheries; Mike Nussman, President of the American
Sportfishing Association; Phil Isenberg, Chairman of the Blue Ribbon Panel
on the Marine Life Protection Act; Jim Kellogg, President of the California
Fish & Game Commission, and Barry Broad, lobbyist. Tom Raftican, president
of United Anglers of Southern California, emceed the event.
Over 300 people attended from a variety of organizations, including
Coastside Fishing Club, United Anglers of Southern California, United
Anglers of California and the Recreational Fishing Alliance and the Golden
Gate Federation of Fishermens Associations (GGFA).
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