Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) on Wednesday announced that the U.S. Department of Interior has decided it will not close any national fish hatcheries around the country in the next month as feared – including at Dale Hollow and Erwin – and that it will work on a long-term solution to keeping them open.
“I appreciate Interior Secretary Jewell heeding the concerns of Tennesseans and others around the country who depend upon these hatcheries to replace trout that are destroyed by federal locks and dams,” Senator Alexander said. “Members of Congress spoke out, and the Department of the Interior responded. Now, the nearly 900,000 Tennesseans and visitors who buy fishing licenses in our state can once again have faith that Tennessee’s trout fishing will remain some of the best in the country.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been preparing a report, expected in the next month, on the mitigation fish hatchery program that fishing advocates feared would lead to closures of some hatcheries. On Sept. 11, the senator urged Secretary Jewell to support Tennessee’s national fish hatcheries, Dale Hollow and Erwin, and to delay any pending recommendations to close hatcheries.
Senator Alexander received word this week from the Department of Interior that there will be no closures of national fish hatcheries in the next month, and that it had instructed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work with Congress, state wildlife agencies and fishing groups to discuss long-term solutions. The senator said, “If federal locks and dams are going to destroy fish, then the federal government has a responsibility to replace them. I helped work out a deal with the Tennessee Valley Authority to keep hatcheries open for the next three years, and I’m glad the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is no longer looking to close them despite that progress.”
In May, Senator Alexander announced that he had brokered a deal to keep open Tennessee’s hatcheries at Dale Hollow and Erwin. The three-year agreement between the Tennessee Valley Authority and federal and state wildlife agencies has TVA paying to keep the hatcheries producing fish after budget woes had threatened their ability to do so.