The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) is very close to closing the Norfolk and Greers Ferry fish hatcheries.

If you are like most newspaper readers (for those of us that still read newspapers) you go first to your favorite section – maybe front page, comics, editorial page, sports or whatever, and if time, you scan the rest of the paper.

            Buried on page six of the sports page in the Arkansas Dem-Gaz of March 27th is a story that affects all of us in Cleburne County.  As reported, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) is very close to closing the Norfolk and Greers Ferry fish hatcheries.  This action has been threatened a number of times recently but this time it looks for real.

            Together these two hatcheries produce 600,000 trout per year and this activity generates an economic impact of about 175 million dollars or about 92 dollars for every dollar invested.  Trout fishing is big as both a tourist attraction and local activity as 160,000 trout fishing permits are sold annually.

            Trout fishing is big business and since the author, Bryan Hendricks, estimates these anglers activity creates 4.8 million in federal income taxes and 4.3 million in state and local taxes, why would any logical government bureaucrat propose closing the fish hatcheries?

            The reason will amaze you unless you fall into the camp of being an environmental wacko.  If you do, then your buttons will probably bust from pride.  The USFWS in its infinite wisdom has prioritized its activity and trout fishing is at the bottom of their carefully composed priority list. 

            The priorities:

                        1.  Recovering federally endangered or threatened species.

                        2.  Restoring imperiled aquatic species.

                        3.  Establishing tribal partnerships and trust responsibilities.

                        4.  Other propagation programs for native species.

                        5.  Lastly, propagation programs for non-native species.


            The trout program includes non-native species; thus it is the lowest priority.  So here we have a typical federal government agency that openly admits they do not factor the hatcheries economic impact into its decision despite the fact the Arkansas hatcheries make money.  It appears our government would rather spend billions protecting some

½ inch snail or a type of mosquito or flea than help mankind or help the economy.  Just in Arkansas we have had road constructions stopped or the building of small or large industrial plants delayed because some environmentalists thought they found some microscopic insect or animal.  History tells us there have always been species that have disappeared because of the evolution in the earth regardless of man’s presence.  Take for example the dinosaur.  If there were two or three dinosaurs alive today, our federal government would probably stop our entire industrial economy for native species propagation.

            This, of course, is only one example of government bureaucrats going off the deep end.  Another highly publicized event is Obama’s failure to approve the Keystone pipeline project.  Despite three detailed and complete studies showing there is little or no environmental impact, our president ignores benefits of creating thousands of jobs and probably billions of dollars from such construction and refuses to act.  One can only conclude Obama feels he owes a lot to the environmental weirdos that helped put him in power.

            One of the arguments our liberal friends make is the danger of pipeline leakage.  Several studies have stated these leakages are rare and are safer than transporting oil by rail or truck. Not too long ago a significant part of a town was wiped out from an exploding rail car carrying oil.  Information makes no difference to these radicals.  They would rather the use of fossil fuels be eliminated and man go back to the horse and buggy days.

            The logical answer to the predicament of the federal government funding our hatcheries in Norfolk and Greers Ferry is to have the state take over – eliminate the feds.  It has already been proven there is great economic benefit and return for every dollar invested so why not have this investment come from the state which receives the benefit?

            The answer, of course, comes from the attitude that is prevalent in too many of us.  If there is any way we can receive federal money, go for it.  Remember Governor Beebe’s remarks when we were debating if the state should move 250,000 more people to Medicaid where the feds would pay 100 percent of the cost for three years instead of 70 percent on the existing practice?  He told us we were fools if we didn’t take what he described as “FREE MONEY”.

            When will we learn there is no free money and perhaps more importantly with the feds in control we lose our ability to make intelligent decisions for what’s best for us in Arkansas?


(Jerry Jackson of Heber Springs writes his “conservative viewpoint” column each week)