California DFG releases plan for hatchery enhancement | SierraSun.com

California DFG releases plan for hatchery enhancement

Bruce Ajari
Gone Fishin'

There appears to be good news for the fishermen and women in the state of California. The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) released a plan to fully implement the hatchery enhancements called for in Assembly Bill 7.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Dave Codgill of Modesto, will take effect on July 1. Apparently, Governor Schwarzenegger has made a decision to implement AB 7 fully, showing his commitment to restore California’s hatchery system and wild trout program.

This restoration is important not only to anglers but to the economies and communities that rely on them. This is especially true in an area such as ours that has such a high tourist trade. Fishing is a much bigger part of the equation than many realize.

AB 7 added Section 13007 to the California Fish and Game Code in 2005 and requires DFG to deposit one-third of sport fishing license fees in the Hatchery and Inland Fisheries Fund (HIFF) beginning July 1.

HIFF funds may be used upon appropriation by the legislature to support DFG programs related to the management, maintenance and capital improvements of California’s fish hatcheries, the Heritage and Wild Trout Program and enforcement activities.

The fund will also support other activities eligible for revenue generated by sport fishing license fees.

Schwarzenegger has proposed full funding in this budget year for implementation of AB 7 and has included additional funding to DFG from the General Fund. In keeping with the Governor’s signing message, this action will ensure that the implementation of AB 7 will not impact other programs, said DFG Director Ryan Broddrick.

The funding of AB 7 is subject to approval by the Legislature in the annual budget process. The Senate and Assembly Budget Subcommittees are currently considering approval of the Governor’s request for full implementation.

I was happy to see that the Governor has recommended additional moneys from the General Fund in addition to one-third of the funds from license sales. With license sales apparently declining, less funding would have been available to fund the projects if he had not taken this measure.

As I have commented before, the budgetary model for the DFG needs to be changed. The resources are everyone’s to enjoy, not just hunters and fishermen. It is crazy for the Department to be dependent on just fishing and hunting license sales.

I discussed this model briefly during the warden parity article I recently wrote. Incidentally, this issue of warden parity is another critical one.

If you folks have not written your letters to the Governor and your Legislators, please do so. We must keep this issue square within the cross hairs so they will not forget about it during the budgetary process. The future protection of our natural resources in the state depends on this “thin green line.”

Please write those letters now!

California’s trout resources are found in more than 3,000 natural lakes, 625 man-made reservoirs and more than 18,000 miles of cold-water streams. This includes 7,763 miles of salmon and steelhead water.

DFG stocks six species of trout and chars ” rainbow, brown, cutthroat, golden, brook and lake trout (Mackinaw) ” and three species of salmon.

Kokanee (non-anadromous sockeye salmon) are stocked in 24 reservoirs, Chinook salmon in another 12 reservoirs and a domesticated strain of Coho salmon has been stocked in Lake Oroville.

Wild, native and introduced trout, including 11 identified subspecies of heritage trout, are found in California.

Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.

– Attaining the increase state fish hatchery production goals relating to the release of trout.

– Funding permanent positions, seasonal aids and other activities in the Hatchery and Heritage and Wild Trout Programs.

– Allowing DFG the ability to initiate and manage the restoration of naturally indigenous genetic stocks of trout to their original California source watersheds.

– Authorizing the use of funds in the HIFF to be used for the purpose of obtaining scientifically valid genetic determinations of California native trout stocks.