The operation of Connecticut’s fish hatcheries, which support Trout in the Classroom, Salmon in Schools and stocking programs, are again threatened by the state’s budget crisis.
This time its not direct cuts put the hatcheries in jeopardy, but a hiring freeze that is preventing the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection from replacing not only employees being laid off by the state, but additional employees who plan voluntary departures. These employees, other than some benefits, are paid for by hunting and fishing license fees and by taxes on hunting and fishing gear.
Click here to read a letter to Connecticut anglers.
Anglers and conservationists need to reach out to legislators to speak out for adequate staffing levels at Connecticut’s hatcheries. The attached fact sheet contains information that legislators need to hear from their constituents who hunt or fish. Click here to find out who represents you in the state Senate and the General Assembly.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy can be reached at the Office of the Governor, State Capitol, 210 Capital Ave., Hartford, CT 06106. The phone number is 860-566-4840, and an email can be sent to Gov. Malloy by clicking here.
The following was sent out Thursday night by the Connecticut Council of Trout Unlimited:
We learned today that the deadline for the Conservation and Development Appropriations Subcommittee to address the DEEP budget is April 1st.
The best course of action at this time is to ask our membership (and our TIC teachers and parents) to check the Subcommittee list and, if their local legislator(s) are on the list, ask them to make contact with them about the reinstating funding for the hatchery ASAP. This time each legislator on the Subcommittee needs to hear specifically from their own constituents.
Greg Sharp, Chair of the Fisheries Advisory Council, has prepared a sample letter and I have put together the list of members and completed the contact information. I also have them sorted by Chapter on the second tab. I’ve also included Greg’s and our testimony to the Subcommitte during the comment period.
Please stress that the deadline is April 1st!!!
A very good piece of news is that Bill 6047: An Act Providing Proper State Funding for State Hatcheries was passed by the environment committee. Greg Sharp sent the following message yesterday:
“Earlier today, the Environment Committee voted favorably on Representative Tong’s bill to set up a Task Force to examine the issue of providing sustainable funding for the State’s hatcheries and recreational fishing programs. In addition to the Task Force, the substitute bill as voted out by the Committee includes a provision to establish a trust fund within the Treasurer’s office to accept donations, grant funds, etc. which would only be accessed at the direction of the Commissioner of DEEP. It does not appear to provide that license revenues and federal excise taxes would go into the Treasurer’s fund, so those monies would still be subject to being cut, swept, etc. by legislatures in the future.
The bill now goes to the floor of the House, where we believe it will pass. I will keep you posted as to the next steps, but I believe we should be stepping up the communications to the members of the Subcommittee on Appropriations for Conservation and Development to urge them to restore the Kensington Hatchery funding. More to come.”
We can thank our friend and fellow angler Rep Bill Tong for this bill.
I WANT TO STRESS THAT THERE ARE NO FUNDING PROVISIONS FOR ANY HATCHERY FOR THE NEXT YEAR IN THIS BILL. EVEN IF THIS BILL IS ENACTED, IF THE FUNDING FOR KENSINGTON IS NOT REINSTATED, THEN THE HATCHERY WILL CLOSE.
If you have any questions, please let me know!
The Legislative Regulations Review Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 24, approved the Inland Fisheries regulations proposal that includes moving Opening Day one week earlier to the second Saturday in April (instead of its current third Saturday). This means that Opening Day 2015 will be April 11.
A summary of the regulation changes can be found here.
The new regulations are not yet effective. It typically takes a week or so following approval to finish up the legal process and get them over to the office of Secretary of State for official posting. DEEP will post again as soon as they are effective.