In response to local questions about the funding mechanism of the state fish hatchery system under SB 1148 with AB 7 essentially dismantled, former Mono County Senator Dave Cogdill responded:
“The HIFF (Hatchery and Inland Fishery Fund) continues under SB1148 to receive 1/3 rd. of sport fishing license fees (about $20 million annually at current rates) but the priority has now been shifted from hatcheries to Heritage and Wild Trout programs, guaranteeing “at least” $2,000,000, and “at least” seven positions to this program, annually. When you factor in that the newly named Fish and Wildlife Service takes 29% of the HIFF for “administration” the amount left for actual hatchery operations, annually, would be a maximum of $12,200,000 ($20,000,000 less 29%, less $2,000,000 to HWTP).
Adjusting for inflation, this would equate to about $9,000,000 in 2002 dollars, which I believe is pretty close to what the old DFG was spending annually to run hatcheries prior to AB7. These numbers get substantially worse if more than $2,000,000 a year gets sent to the HWTP.
The goal to raise and plant 2.75lbs./license sold, remains, but I am skeptical that this will ever be achieved, unless license sales drop dramatically. Under SB1148, the DFW Commission now has the authority to set license fees, based on “reasonable” costs. If they were to actually make the capital improvements need at the hatcheries to meet the planting goals, fund the HWTP, and continue to charge a 29% administration fee, sport fishing license fees will have to increase substantially, which would further depress the number of license sales, but would allow them to meet the planting goals at a much lower operational cost.
Bottomline, the experience for the general angler will deteriorate at the same time become more costly, meaning fewer license sales. More and more resources will be dedicated to the HWTP over time, which in the end, may or may not enhance the experience for fly fishermen, but, in my opinion, can’t help but further hurt the economies of Inyo and Mono Counties.”