Sunday, August 31, 2014 · 6:27 a.m.

Sen. Lamar Alexander brokers deal to save trout hatcheries

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Sen. Lamar Alexander. (Photo: Staff)

Sen. Lamar Alexander today announced an agreement between TVA and federal and state wildlife agencies that he said will keep open hatcheries that produce 60 percent of the trout stocked in Tennessee rivers and lakes.

During a press conference at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency headquarters, the senator said that budget woes have threatened to close both the Dale Hollow and Erwin national fish hatcheries. The senator credited TVA’s participation in a three-year agreement with federal and state wildlife agencies with keeping the hatcheries open while a permanent solution is being negotiated. 

“Closing Dale Hollow and Erwin would have been a disaster for 900,000 Tennesseans and visitors who bought fishing licenses last year," Alexander said. "Dale Hollow helps make Tennessee’s rivers and lakes among the most prized trout fisheries in our country. The Erwin hatchery provides brood stocks for fishing waters across the country.”

For several years, Alexander has helped provide funds for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ budget to purchase trout from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to mitigate the loss of fish caused by corps dams. He is the senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees the corps. TVA will also mitigate for the loss of fish on the Tennessee River system.

Alexander said this had been a week of “good news for Tennessee fishermen.” On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed his legislation that would delegate to state wildlife agencies enforcement of safety regulations below Corps of Engineers Dams on the Cumberland River. The senator said he expected the Corps would work with state agencies to create “reasonable regulations that prohibit fishing while water is spilling through the gates of the dams 20 percent of the time, but allow fishing with appropriate precautions the rest of the time.” 

The senator was joined at the press conference by Joe Hoagland, TVA’s senior vice president of policy and oversight; Ed Carter, executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; Cindy Dohner, regional director, Southeast region, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Dan Forster, director, wildlife resources division, of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.       

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