Hatcheries at risk again…..but it’s different this time!

Connecticut Anglers:

Fish hatcheries, and the programs they make possible, are again being put at risk due to the state’s budget deficit.

In this case, the worst case scenario is not a loss of funding or cuts directed specifically at the hatcheries but the inability of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Natural Resources to sufficiently staff the facilities.

The state has instituted a hard hiring freeze and has issued layoff notices to workers. Maintainer positions were part of this layoff and those with the least seniority were the first targeted in this layoff. Unfortunately, this included three of the 14 total staff who operate the hatcheries. In addition, two more positions will be lost, including a supervisor, due to voluntary departures this summer. In 2009, the hatcheries were staffed by 22 people.

These departures would leave fish and wildlife officials with nine total staff to operate three hatcheries -an impossible task. The result could be closure of a hatchery; regardless of how many hatcheries remain open, the number of trout available for stocking could be reduced from 650,000 to as few as 350,000. That’s fewer fish stocked for anglers, and a serious risk for programs such as Trout in the Classroom and Salmon in the Schools, which according to DEEP statistics allowed 10,000 to 15,000 Connecticut students to get hands-on, cross-curricular exposure to the environment and fish, and crucially helps create the next generation of anglers and conservationists.

The next generation of anglers is key to the future of fish and fishing in Connecticut. Programs such as the hatcheries are funded by license fees and taxes on hunting and fishing equipment.

The looming cuts put at risk not only current revenues from fishing licenses brought in by resident anglers but another $40 million, if not more, in revenue to local economies, paid directly by the more than 100,000 anglers from near and far who make 1.5 million trips to Connecticut to fish. The loss of non-resident licenses would be even more devastating, as those anglers pay more to access to the legendary trout rivers of Connecticut in the Housatonic and Farmington river systems.

Whether or not you fish for trout, you need to care about this. Connecticut sportsmen cannot be divided on any of these issues, because the next cuts could hit the pursuit of species of interest to you.

With the legislature about to return to Hartford to attempt to craft a now-late budget, anglers need to speak now. Use this fact sheet (click here) to call or email your state senators and representatives, as well as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. In your email or letter, state your name and if you belong to an organization, the name of the organization to which you belong. Let them know that the revenue that would be generated by fully staffed hatcheries would more than fund the programs for which sportsmen already foot the bill. The fact sheet (click here) will help outline what to say. Please feel free to send the entire fact sheet to your legislator but please let them know in your own words why this is important to you as a constituent.

Thank you for your time and support.

 

How to contact your legislator:

Click here to find your legislator (click on the name to get contact information).

Contact Governor Malloy:

 

Office of the Governor
State Capitol
210 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106

Phone Number: (860) 566-4840

Or click here to send an email.

Hatcheries NOT cut

Tonight HB 1601 passed that did not include cuts to the state fish hatcheries. Credit goes to those who made the calls and sent emails and letters to their legislators.

Thank you. Sincerely. Thank you.

We are proud to be a part of a community that understands the need to care for the resources we enjoy.

There were many cuts across the board to nearly all programs in the state budget. Please keep in mind that we have yet to learn what these cuts mean for conservation and environmental programs within DEEP. There are many programs that should mean as much to us such as programs that address water quality, protect endangered species, support our state parks and encourage youth to get outside. We will keep you posted.

 

 

Kensington Hatchery Funding Update

The original budget proposed by the Governor cut the funding needed to run the Kensington Hatchery. This is the only hatchery in the state where Salmon and Seeforellen Brown Trout can be raised here in Connecticut. Closing of this hatchery would not only mean a halt or dramatic decrease in the stocking of Salmon and extinction of a unique strain of trout, but one unique and valuable education program, Salmon in the Schools, will cease to exist and another, Trout in the Classroom, will be in jeopardy. Both the Salmon in the Schools and the Trout in the Classroom programs make Science, Math and Writing concepts tangible for students.

This funding was included in the budget that the Appropriations Committee voted on in late April. Thank you to all who sent emails and letters and made phone calls. It really does make a difference!

The funding will not be completely secure until the final budget is voted on in June but currently there are no actions that need to be taken. Check back for updates in the next month.

Thanks again to all who participated in the process and made your voices heard! I hope we can count on you if we need more help!

In Honor of Veteran’s Day…..A TRIBUTE TO PROJECT HEALING WATERS by Pamela Moran, Recreation Therapist, Newington Veteran’s Hospital

“I am so grateful for all of the Project Healing Waters volunteers”.  This comment from one of the Veterans participating in the PHW program at the Newington VA is a sincere message conveying the sentiments of many.  The volunteers have partnered with the Veterans to form a wonderful alliance.   PHW members exhibit professionalism and provide camaraderie through their interactions.  They are teachers to the Veterans as well as mentors, buddies and teammates.

As a group, the Vets have been able to learn to tie flies, cast with a fly rod and understand the many elements to fly fishing.  Most of them have not been fly fishing and were not aware of the techniques of casting.  The PHW volunteers have taken the Vets under their wings to spend time in the ‘classroom’ as well as on the river and by the pond to work together in order to instill a knowledge and appreciation for the sport.  There have been a few who expressed, for one reason or another, that they did not think they could tie a fly.  However, when connected to a volunteer he/she ended up quite surprised and proudly held up that ‘first fly’ for all to view.

Jim Iannone, Program Leader for the PHW program that functions out of the Newington, CT VA writes:  “Since July 2012 the volunteers from the Farmington Valley and Candlewood Lake chapters of  Trout Unlimited have enjoyed ‘serving those that have served’ through the PHWFF program.  We particularly enjoy their reactions to tying their first fly and catching that ‘first fish’ on a fly that they have tied during our sessions.  I am pleased with the success of the program and glad I stepped up as Program Leader to get the program started.  It has been very rewarding to me and the volunteers from our chapters.”

Jim has organized a wonderful network of fly fishing enthusiasts who connect very well with the Veterans in the program.   The enthusiastic group with PHW have been very dedicated to the cause, coming in to the VA on a monthly basis to tie or meeting on the water to help Vets put into play the skills they have been working on together.

Project Healing Waters volunteers with the Newington program are also VA volunteers – they promote good will and positive experiences with their efforts.  Voluntary Service Assistant Chief Joe Canzanella worked with the processing of applications, etc to facilitate the volunteers to function within the VA system.  Joe is also a very active supporter of the program, including driving Veterans to the various locations that are used to exercise their skills.

A Veteran participant, David, wrote:

“This program has many different aspects:   First, there is the fly tying.  While there are accepted patterns of flies one can experiment with their own ideas.  One has to have a certain adeptness in order to be able to construct a fly as well as patience.  Members of the organization are there to answer questions, make suggestions, as well as encouragement.

The real proof in the pudding comes when one is able to see if their product works – does it catch fish?  But who knows, perhaps the water is cloudy, the sun is out, too hot, too cold, or there is a different hatch.  Your fly may work on a different day, or even a different fish!

But what could be better than to be out on a spring or summer day. The sun is warm, there are a few bugs, listening to water as it murmurs along the stream’s bank or chuckling as it flows over the rocks with birds singing in the trees.  What a bonus, if the fly that you tied brings in a fish!”

Another Veteran who has been enjoying the program reflected when asked if she would like to contribute any thoughts: “It helped me to realize I’m a fisherman of men.”  Not only has PHW provided the first opportunity for her to participate in fly fishing, the experience allowed her to catch a fish on her first outing.

Many Veterans have become ‘hooked’ on the program—what a wonderful thing!  And a blessing that the PHW program continues year-round.  This provides the opportunity for the Vets to remain involved throughout the cold and wintry, ‘will spring ever arrive’ weeks.  More reason to keep tying in order to get those flies ready for when it’s finally time to get back out on the water.

Here are some more messages that the Veterans would like to relate about their experience:

“Thanks to Project Healing Waters I got to experience the thrill of catching my first fish”.

“I had never had the opportunity to try fly fishing.  Thanks to the Project Healing Waters volunteers I now have a new hobby”.

“Thanks to Project Healing Waters for all of the outings.  Also for teaching us how to tie dry and wet flies”.

“Fresh air, sunshine and fishing.  What a wonderful combination”.

“Awesome fishing and the volunteers are excellent with assisting.  It is very relaxing to get close to nature and appreciate the resources.  It’s been 20 years since I fly fished – it’s great to get back to it”.

“It’s a great program.  I had a wonderful day.  Fly fishing is lots of fun and I learn something new every time”.

“The Project Healing Waters volunteers are tremendous – very nice, great people”.

Thank you Project Healing Waters for all you have been doing to enrich the lives of many.

The Veterans and staff of the Newington VA truly appreciate your efforts, encouragement, enthusiasm and commitment to this art and those you have touched with your mission.

A new species of “Rock Snot” found in the Farmington River

A NEW SPECIES of “Rock Snot”.

Connecticut scientists Dr. Diba Khan-Bureau of Three Rivers Community College and Inland Fisheries Division Biologist Mike Beauchene have determined the species of algae that was first reported in the West Branch of the Farmington River (2011), Barkhamsted, is a NEW SPECIES to the world. Their findings were just published in the European Journal of Phycology.

Currently, Didymosphenia hullii (name of the new species), is blooming (undergoing rapid growth) and if conditions remain favorable will continue to cover the river bottom until about mid-May. Didymo, as it is more commonly known, belongs to several species of algae which produce long stalks. These stalks form a thick mat covering much of the rocks and can be a nuisance to anglers (fouls flies and lures).

DEEP would like to encourage everyone using the West Branch Farmington River for fishing (especially during the Opening Day Riverton Fishing Derby and days surrounding the Opening Day of Fishing season on April 9th) to be extra diligent in cleaning anything that has had contact with the river bottom and water.

Click here for an informational brochure

What can you do?

You can do you part by following a few simple steps:

CHECK & CLEAN – Before leaving a section of stream, remove all obvious clumps of algae and plant material from fishing gear, waders, clothing & footwear, canoes & kayaks, and anything else that has been in the water and look for hidden clumps. Leave them at the site.

DRY – Dry Equipment, if possible, allow for 5 days of drying time before entering new waters

TELL YOUR FRIENDS – The word must be passed along to everyone you know who uses the river. For more information including how you can identify and report didymo blooms, you can download the following documents issued by DEEP:

Kensington Hatchery Funded!

Great news! The CT biannual appropriations bill HR 6350 was passed by both the House and Senate. The bill includes the item of $149,910 for Kensington Hatchery operations. Thanks to everyone who called and wrote to legislators on this issue. It made a difference!

WHAT’S THE NEWS ON STATE WIDE WATER PLANNING?

UConn’s announcement that it was seeking additional supplies of water for its Storrs Campus in November of 2012, stirred up a bit of controversy and and outcry for better planning for our water resources in Connecticut. So what has happened? First of all, State Representative John Hampton convened a Water Summit in early November of 2013. A large panel made up of several legislators, government officials, industry representatives and conservation organizations met at the LOB to discuss state wide water planning and next steps. Sub-comittees were formed out of this Summit and met several times since the first of this year. The Summit will reconvene to discuss findings at a date TBD.

The University of Connecticut hosted the Strategic Water Resources Planning Conference and Workshop in February of 2014. The conference was attended by over 100 legistlators, government officials, industry representatives and conservation organizations. The event was extremely well facilitated and informative. It is our hope that the momentum contines and we see some progress in this year’s short legistlative session.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

The Water Planning Council already has the structure and involvement of necessary government agencies and stakeholders to move forward with water resource planning. However, it does not have the authoriy and resources to accomplish this. It is now up to the legislature and our Governor to grant these things to the Water Planning Council. It is up to the people of Connecticut to let them know that this is what we want.