Johnson City Press: TVA, feds sign agreement to keep Erwin Fish Hatchery open 3 years

Posted on May 11, 2015

ERWIN — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander announced today a “permanent” funding fix for three regional trout hatcheries, including the Erwin National Fish Hatchery, in which the Tennessee Valley Authority will reimburse the facilities $1 million annually to stay in operation.

Alexander helped broker a temporary deal in 2013 to ensure Tennessee’s national hatcheries -- the Erwin site and the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery in Celina -- would receive funding through 2016.

TVA CEO, Bill Johnson, said from Erwin that it will reimburse Erwin, Celina, and the Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery in Suches, Ga., for trout killed at various dams in Tennessee and Georgia.

The money will support operations that provide trout stocking programs in tailwaters and reservoirs of 12 TVA dams.


News Release:

ERWIN — The Tennessee Valley Authority, working with U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, has reached a multi-agency agreement to provide continued funding for three federal fish hatcheries that annually supply more than one million trout for TVA dam tailwaters and reservoirs in Tennessee and Georgia.

The agreement assures stocking from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hatcheries will continue at 13 TVA tailwaters and reservoirs beyond 2016, when a temporary TVA funding arrangement is due to expire.

TVA signed a Memorandum of Agreement in 2013 with FWS, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and Georgia Department of Natural Resources to provide $906,000 annually for three years while the parties sought a permanent solution to anticipated federal funding cuts.

Based on input from an advisory group of interested stakeholders, the agencies developed a plan to collectively fund future trout hatchery operations at current levels in the following manner: TVA will provide base funding for the trout stock; FWS will fund infrastructure and maintenance costs of the hatcheries, and the state agencies will fund their costs to distribute and monitor the fish.

“Tennessee fishermen already enjoy fishing on TVA lakes, and now TVA will have an even greater role in making sure Tennesseans continue to enjoy some of the best trout fishing in the country,” U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said. “TVA will support the hatcheries in the same way that the Army Corps of Engineers does when it replaces fish killed by dams on the Cumberland River and the same way the Bonneville Power Administration supports replacing fish on the Columbia and Snake rivers. Last Wednesday, I met with Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, who said that TVA’s decision makes possible a permanent solution to keep the hatcheries open. This is good news for the businesses that create jobs and depend on fishing in Tennessee."

“We have a mission to provide environmental stewardship and a goal of enhancing the quality of life in the Tennessee Valley through recreational opportunities and economic development,” TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson said. “We are accomplishing these things by working with our partner agencies on projects such as this, making it possible to continue to provide cold-water species, such as rainbow and brown trout that are suitable to the tailwaters and so popular with anglers and local communities that benefit from the recreational spending they attract.”

Cindy Dohner, southeast regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, praised the efforts of TVA and Sen. Lamar Alexander to support the hatcheries program. “Without both Sen. Alexander and TVA, we wouldn’t be able to assure our collective obligations to stock trout for public enjoyment and the economic contributions that work generates in communities across East Tennessee and North Georgia.”

Ed Carter, executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, said, “On behalf of all anglers who fish Tennessee waters, our agency appreciates Sen. Alexander’s leadership and the collaborative effort of the TVA, the USFWS and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to insure the continuation of trout hatchery operations supplying our streams and tailwaters. It gives me great comfort to know that the economic benefit to all Tennesseans and the fantastic angling opportunities these vital fisheries provide will continue.”

“Our long-standing partnership among TVA, state and federal natural resource agencies can celebrate this latest success in serving our constituents,” echoed Dan Forster, director of Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division.

More than 256,000 anglers are estimated to fish for trout in Tennessee and Georgia waters each year, spending about $73 for every $1 invested in the hatchery program and producing an economic impact of about $45 million.

TVA has worked since the 1990s to improve water quality and enhance aquatic habitat in its reservoirs and tailwaters by adding dissolved oxygen, foregoing hydroelectric generation and maintaining minimum water flows through its dams. The agency has invested more than $60 million on capital improvements to support this program and devotes $3 million to $4 million annually to operate it. TVA’s portion of FWS’s trout stocking program will benefit the three hatcheries that supply TVA waters: Erwin National Fish Hatchery in Erwin,Tenn.; Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery in Celina, Tenn., and Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery in Suches, Ga.

With the new agreement, stocking for recreational fishing will continue around thefollowing TVA dams in Tennessee and Georgia: Apalachia Dam on the Hiwassee River,Blue Ridge Dam on the Toccoa River, Boone Dam on the South Fork Holston River,Cherokee Dam on the Holston River, Ft. Patrick Henry Dam on the South Fork Holston River, Normandy Dam on the Duck River, Norris Dam on the Clinch River, Ocoee Dam No 1on the Ocoee River, South Holston Dam on the South Fork Holston River, Tellico Dam on the Little Tennessee River, Tims Ford Dam on the Elk River, Watauga Dam on the Watauga River and Wilbur Dam on the Watauga River.