Statehouse Headliners: Fish hatchery closure swimming upstream against popular support

By Guy Page

Faced with strong opposition from sportsmen’s organizations and an Addison County newspaper, Gov. Phil Scott and the Vermont Legislature are looking for a way to keep the Salisbury Fish Hatchery open.

The southern Addison County facility is one of five hatcheries that stock Vermont waters with species popular with fishermen. The state budget is tight this year, fishing and hunting revenues are down, and closing Salisbury will cut $250,000 in state spending. On the plus side, financially, Fish & Wildlife fish hatchery operations stock the state’s waters with fish that support a $31 fishing industry, according to a Feb. 14 editorial by Addison Independent publisher Angelo Lynn.   The free-to-the-general public fish hatcheries are also popular field trip destinations for families and schools.

Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife

Fishing is a $31 million business in Vermont. Sportsmen’s groups are trying to reverse the planned closure of a fish hatchery in Salisbury in Addison County, and they’re getting help from at least one local newspaper.

Since the planned closure was announced earlier this month, Gov. Scott and administration officials have been listening to concerns from the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and other hunting and fishing organizations. “The administration and Fish & Wildlife are engaged in conversations about what that would look like. We heard their concerns, we understood what they are saying,” Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter told Headliners Friday afternoon.

A key legislator said “we’re looking into the impacts” of closing vs. operating the hatchery. “We’re trying to buy ourselves another year to stay open,” the lawmaker said today. One environmental impact is phosphorus effluent runoff into Halmon Brook.  A mitigation plan will likely need to be part of the solution if the hatchery is to remain open.

Publisher Lynn of the Addison Independent argues for a balanced, pragmatic solution, especially in light of far more severe runoff problems elsewhere: “Let’s be real: Should the Agency of Natural Resources be a stickler over this tiny bit of effluent from a single hatchery when it consistently turns a blind eye to the millions of gallons of wastewater dumped into Lake Champlain annually by sewage treatment plants throughout the Champlain basin?” The strongly-worded editorial concludes with contact information for administration officials and both Addison County senators.

The “Addie Indie” also notes that Salisbury is the only ‘broodstock’ station, mating male and female fish and producing five million trout eggs every year.  Closing Salisbury would just require the State to develop broodstock facilities at one of the other stations.

No often do Vermont’s hunting and fishing activists find common cause with a newspaper reputed to be one of the most politically liberal in Vermont.  But it’s happening over the Salisbury Fish Hatchery. And state officials seem to be noticing.

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

Image courtesy of Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife

9 thoughts on “Statehouse Headliners: Fish hatchery closure swimming upstream against popular support

  1. Public opinion on display with H-57 left little to anyone’s imagination, but it didn’t matter did it.

    So who can predict this one with any degree of accuracy?

    Current hypocrisy on display, along with the question: lab rats or babies?

    Only in the state of progressives.

  2. So years ago the state prohibited regular fishing in the Battenkill south of the what was Dufrense Pond in Manchester. Only fly fishing. I guess the Orvis Company wanted to own the rights to the waterway. In doing so the state drove away all of people who used to regular fish along the banks. Most people who fish just want to catch something. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s a fish. Instead of continuously pushing sportsmen away the state needs to support sporting. It sure has spent a fortune on bike paths and giving bicyclist the rights to the roadways and they don’t pay anything into the state coffers.

  3. With all the feel good stupid programs costing thousands of dollars, the Dem/Prog, Libs waste funds to support,they have little problem with trying to bury one that is really productive. Wish there was as much push back on other programs they fund.

  4. Montpelier has to pick on little projects to save money and have serious budget talks, and there is a very good reason for it. If they looked at making realistic budget modifications, on real size issues, they would find 100’s of millions of dollars that are wasted EVERY year.

    This would expose some very friendly and cozy relationships.

    So instead we make great news with these shiny objects, that wouldn’t have made a difference either way, but it takes up head space….and goes back to it’s just really hard and there are no savings to be found in this budget, we’re running a really tight ship.

    And the propaganda continues.

    Meanwhile we just shoveled in how many millions for “affordable housing” which is taxpayer money supporting the building of one bedroom apartments for $335,000? Yeah me thinks the pig has become a hog…..

    My bet is we could cut our budget by 10% easy, easy.

    • That must be the magic number. There is a proposed 22 unit of “low income” housing being considered in Shaftsbury at the tune of $6.6 million. Really, $330.000 each? Somebody is making some good return on their investment and it isn’t the tax payer. I’d like to see what a $330K low income housing unit looks like.

      • yes, $500 to $550/per sq ft seems to be the “affordable number too.” Most homes sell for less than $150 per sq. ft. Our most expensive property in a rich town are condominiums built on the ski slope, that sell for $444 per sq.ft. and they have very, very nice finishings.

        Vermont Digger has refused to post my commentary on this matter.

        It also creates a generational poverty trap where people never own anything and can never find a cheaper place to rent (they don’t allow people to build them) because it’s not part of the “sustainable development plan or smart growth plan which has infected the entire state with non sense and removed ALL common sense, though many have good intentions.

        It works great for those connected, they get stinkin’ ridh of creating more poverty and trapping generations into poverty…..there’s great money to be made in Vermont by keeping so many people poor and desperate, that’s why the poor and desperate are growing in numbers and misery….money.

  5. The state budget is tight this year, so we will close down this hatchery ………What a crock !!

    The Governor, need to step up and support this for the Sportsmen of the State, he already
    knifed us in the back once …………….

    • Wait, do we have a governor? If we do why, the super majority that voters put in place eliminates anything the governor can do. Last year instead of being a true republican he turned on his base of support and lost his veto power. He is the first governor to lose the power of veto for the checks and balances favorable to good government. I guess we just have to wait until the progressives hang themselves with over regulation, attacks on the Vermont constitution and the never ending nanny state, bloated government, in your face policies and their quest to control the lives of everyone. As a Vermonter of 6 decades plus I have lost all faith in the current administration to stand up to the power hungry progressives running the government. A governor leading the state from behind the democratic curtain.

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