Shutdown doesn’t impact hatchery

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (AP) — The partial government shutdown didn’t stop personnel at the Norfork National Fish Hatchery from taking care of the fish being raised at the hatchery for eventual release in the tailwaters below Arkansas dams.

It’s not the first time personnel with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have worked through a government shutdown.

If you were to ask people such as Jon Casey, project leader for the Norfork hatchery, or U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesperson John Fleming about the politics of shutdowns, they’ll politely tell you they’d rather not speak on the issue.

However, they’re both happy to tell the public the fish were taken care of during the partial government shutdown. And, both of them will be happy to tell you how much they appreciate the work of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

“The game and fish folks are great to work with, their help has really been great during this time,” Casey said. “They’ve hauled trout for us and stocked so people can continue to enjoy great fishing.”

Fleming echoed Casey’s sentiments regarding the work of the AGFC during the shutdown.

“It would be hard to exaggerate how blessed we are to have that type of relationship with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission,” Fleming said. “It’s really typical of the relationship we have other state’s agencies and it all benefits the public.”

During the shutdown, two employees were working at the hatchery, performing the essential duties to keep the fish alive and healthy. That means feeding the fish, cleaning the raceways where the fish live and monitoring the water.

The employees have been rotating through that duty, Casey said. During the shutdown, the hatchery remained closed to the public.

The hatchery was created to replace warm-water fish species that were lost when the dams were built. Trout were added to the waters as they thrive in cold-water rivers. The White and North Fork rivers are nationally known as great rivers for trout fishing and draw fisherman from across the country and the globe.