TVA, Fish and Wildlife Service, TWRA and Ga. Department of Natural Resources will host a public meeting on May 27 to receive comments and recommendations for long-term funding solutions to continue trout stocking programs.(Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press)
The Tennessee Valley Authority, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Georgia Department of Natural Resources will host a public meeting in Knoxville this Tuesday to receive comments on long-term funding recommendations to continue popular trout stocking programs in certain TVA reservoirs and tailwaters across the region.
The agencies are seeking input from angling groups, local and regional businesses, tourism organizations and local governments that benefit from fishable trout waters in their communities.
The meeting will be from 6-7:30 p.m. at TVA heaquarters, 400 W. Summit Hill Drive, Knoxville, in the East Tower meeting room. The public can participate in person or by webinar. Registration for the webinar can be found at www.tva.gov/trout.
The session will include a brief presentation summarizing the issue and the Trout Hatchery Funding Stakeholder Working Group’s recommendations. Attendees can ask questions and provide comments. The meeting will be recorded and posted to the agencies’ websites, where additional comments may be posted.
On May 17, 2013, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and representatives from the agencies formalized an agreement to cooperate in seeking a permanent source of funding to continue trout hatchery production by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Fish Hatchery System for stocking in TVA tailwaters and reservoirs in Tennessee and Georgia.
As part of the agreement, TVA committed to provide more than $900,000 per year from 2014 through 2016 to support federal fish hatchery operations that produce trout for stocking. The agencies also agreed to form a working group with key stakeholders who benefit from recreation-based trout stocking to help identify a long-term funding source. The Trout Hatchery Funding Stakeholder Working Group conducted two meeting in 2013 and developed four recommended long-term funding alternatives for the agencies to consider.
Currently, non-native trout stocked near some of TVA’s dams come from three federal fish hatcheries operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - the Erwin National Fish Hatchery, the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery in Celina, and the Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery in Suches, Ga.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service stocks most of the trout it produces at TVA facilities and provides eggs and fingerling trout to the TWRA for further grow out and stocking at TVA facilities. TVA supports these stocking programs by enhancing the aquatic habitat through oxygenation systems, controlled hydroelectric generation and minimum water flows to help maintain cooler water temperatures. However, in most of the waters, the trout still cannot naturally reproduce, requiring regular stocking to maintain fishable populations.
The short-term funding agreement allows for continued trout stocking for recreational fishing in the colder water of the reservoirs or tailwaters at 12 TVA dams in Tennessee and Georgia.