Black Rock Hatchery remains open

By Deb Murphy

Rumors of the death of the Black Rock Fish Hatchery have been greatly exaggerated.

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The hatchery is not closed and Jim Erdman with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is not sure where the rumors came from.

Fish stocking operations are down state-wide, according to Erdman, but that’s due to state budget reductions. Some Eastern Sierra hatcheries have been impacted by the drought, specifically those fed by natural springs, but Black Rock is alive and well.

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The department’s stocking for the 2015 season has been cut by 40 percent, down to 352,000 pounds in the Eastern Sierra. Last year’s plants, totaling 745,000 pounds, represented roughly 95 percent of the stocking in the area with the balance coming from supplemental stocking of, primarily, trophy size fish.

The Black Rock Hatchery was in the news last summer following the resolution of a dispute between Inyo County and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The dispute focused on the impacts of LADWP groundwater pumping in the area of the hatchery, between Big Pine and Independence. The department agreed to reduce pumping for the hatchery to 8,000 acre-feet a year, a number that CDF&W agreed would be sufficient for hatchery operations.


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10 Responses to Black Rock Hatchery remains open

  1. Trouble February 9, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    0 for 8 so far, truth hurts!

  2. Trouble February 9, 2015 at 7:21 am #

    The cut backs are due to the Cal-Trout environmentalist group that took over Fish and Game. Now called Fish and Wildlife. You haven’t seen nothing yet!

    • B Frank February 10, 2015 at 7:07 am #

      Hit the nail on the head.

  3. Wilderbeast February 8, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

    Jared you make some very valid points. F&W is starting to sound like CalFire with their “Fire Prevention Fees” (which all the homes destroyed in the Round Fire pay annually on each piece of property. Just announced down South that they are killing six more streams of all fish for the Yellow legged Frog (Thanks to Center for Biological Diversity) and will reduce the fishable water on the Angeles National Monument by 50%. What the drought doesn’t kill…electroshocking will.

  4. Jared Smith February 6, 2015 at 7:56 pm #

    The unsubstantiated rumors of the closing of the Black Rock Hatchery were totally false however I can only assume that that misinformed had its roots in the truth that we did indeed see a 25% decrease in fish stockings in 2014 allotments and the reason given for this reduction, directly from DFW personnel, was the reduced pumping at that hatchery. That hardly jives with the water agreement as far as I’ve read and been told by county officials. We saw this hit home in the Bishop Creek drainage as trout stocking ceased almost entirely after Labor Day weekend 2014 leaving 2 months of anglers fishing during the open trout season without ample trout to catch. Given what happened last year, I can certainly understand folks feared the worst, and to be quite honest, there is much reason for such concern.

    As Mr. Tanksley eluded to, something “fishy” is going on here. A 25% reduction locally in 2014? Now a 40-50% reduction region-wide and statewide in 2015? Adequate explanation from the state from a financial standpoint has not been provided or justified. Drought related reductions in production are to be expected under the sever drought conditions in some regions, however production at our local hatcheries is totally unjustified as water is not supposed to be the issue here. Where is the money going exactly after our fishing license dollars are collected? Why are these fees increased when the state has clearly slashed their budget to provide the services those funds are for? The press release on the DFW website from November claims rising fuel costs, rising water pumping costs etc. and these “reasons” if you can call them that, ring awfully hollow at present, especially in our region.

    As an avid angler and local business person, I am very concerned with the state of angling in 2015 and beyond if this is how the DFW plans on handling their business. I can only hope that local government truly grasps the magnitude of what is happening here and chooses to take every available action to remedy this fundamental turn of events. The tremendous number of anglers who visit our area to recreate will simply not come here if this continues and regardless of whether you’re into fishing or not, all of the hikers, backpackers, photographers and the like all need places to stay, shop, eat, grab coffee, get gas and provide services for them. Many if not most of us cannot flourish, some may not even survive, without this core recreational activity. I shutter to think how TOT and other county revenues will be impacted if we don’t find an appropriate resolution to this, and fast.

  5. David Tanksley February 6, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

    The fish stocking should not be reduced at all, especially at Black Rock. As was stated in the article, fish operations would not be impacted by the reduction in water due to the Inyo County agreement. Also, the moneys paid in fish licensing increases go to fish growing and stocking operations. The money is there so where is the money? This alone does not make since for fish production reductions. So what is going on? The great state of California is taking money dedicate to stocking operations and spending it elsewhere. Last year some of the western sierra hatcheries were closed due to the drought. Where is that money? So why would Black Rock reduce their output if they have enough water to grow trout as they agreed in the agreement between Inyo County? SHOW ME THE MONEY? Who is feeding us fish food??? Why would fish stocking be reduced 25% or more if they have the money and the water?

    • Desert Tortoise February 8, 2015 at 8:15 am #

      Your premise is only accurate if the revenues you speak of have not declined. Do you know what the revenues from license sales are? I don’t either, but you assume no reduction in license revenues. That might not be the case. If revenues declined then stocking has to decline. Further research is required.

      • Jared Smith February 8, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

        I’ve done the research so here it is…..

        The data for fishing license revenue.

        For example, fishing license revenue in 2004 (not counting special permits) was $49,334,699. In 2014 it was $56,998,833. Even adjusted for inflation I don’t see how anyone can justify 40-50% reductions in there, especially when some areas of the state are no longer supplied by hatchery trout in favor of self-sustaining wild populations (which I full support when those fisheries can be maintained).

        I would certainly admit that there has been a steady decline in the number of license purchases over the past decade however one certainly has to understand that the DFW shouldn’t just pull the rug out from under local economies all over the state who have relied on the hatchery system for 75+ years with just 5 months notice to figure something out. That is just insane for the state to do us.

        Even if you could justify the reduction in production, which I still don’t believe you can on that scale, this doesn’t take into account that recreational fishing in California bring in nearly 2.5 Billion dollars in sales annually (add another couple billion if you consider ancillary spending by these folks) which generates hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue going straight to the general fund for the state to spend how they please. And it’s ok to drop production 50%? This is obscene in my opinion.

        I don’t think heaping the financial burden of fish stocking on local governments and local businesses is economically sound any way you slice it. And to compound a poor economic situation, they make these decisions without sufficient warning and without sufficient time for the stakeholders, including local businesses, anglers, city & county govt’s etc. to work with the DFW on a “plan B”. What the heck?

        I am all for an open conversation about the future of fisheries, better cooperation between the stakeholders, managing the hatchery system more efficiently and in an environmentally responsible manner…but I’d like to have that conversation BEFORE the state reinvents the wheel and expects me to pay for it.

      • Desert Tortoise February 10, 2015 at 10:54 am #

        I did notice that from 2011 through 2013 fishing licenses issued in Inyo County declined from the mid 60 thousands to low twenty something thousand. Mono County didn’t see a decline in fishing license issues.

        • Jared Smith February 10, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

          I’m not sure where you found that data but you may want to recheck your numbers. Under recent license sales by sales location there were 25,667 fishing license permits (all permit types) sold in Inyo County in 2011 and 25,957 fishing license permits in 2013. This number is remarkably flat. I was actually surprised it was that close because 2011 is when the DFW implemented their new electronic ALDS license sales system and many of the smaller Mom & Pop shops chose to no longer sell licenses or could not meet the mandatory minimum sales needed to justify a terminal. Many businesses suggested their customers buy their license before they come to the area. This electronic system also made it easy for anyone to purchase their license at home, via their phone etc. so many of us expected in-store license sales to decrease significantly.

          To be fair, trying to decipher this data is complicated, especially when considering annual fishing license sales because where someone bought their license and where they actually use that license doesn’t necessarily jive.

          Even when some point to slowly declining fishing license sales statewide as a trend, few take into account how much of that is directly due to the massive hits to the saltwater sportfishing industry in this state as the MLPA process has been implemented. I would argue that over the last two decades, fishing in the Eastern Sierra has actually seen a significant increase as a core activity among visitors. Its probably safe to say that just about every outdoor activity we enjoy here has seen increased participation during that stretch…people just need to get outside.


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