The hoopla over the future of the D.C. Booth historic fish hatchery at Spearfish sent this scrivener scrambling to see who in the federal government is trying to shut it down.
I can’t find the culprit.
I looked through the 2014 budget proposal for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service submitted to Congress in April by the Obama administration.
I looked through the Senate appropriations bill and the House appropriations bill that would cover USFWS.
Not there, either.
I found a lot of other crazy stuff, however.
President Obama wants approximately $1.552 billion — with a b — for the agency in the 2014 budget year that starts Oct. 1 of this year.
That would be an increase of about $67 million over the 2013 funding level of $1.485 billion and about $76 million more than the $1.476 billion in 2012.
The Senate appropriations bill would provide about $1.518 billion for 2014. That’s approximately half of the increase sought by the White House.
The Senate is run by Democrats. The president is a Democrat. The House is run by Republicans.
Guess what? The House appropriations bill would provide about $1.06 billion. That’s a cut of more than $400 million from the 2013 level.
The House and Senate bills cover much more than just the money for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They encompass many billions for the Interior Department, the Forestry Service, the Environmental Protection Agency and assorted other federal agencies.
The House committee is using its version of the bill to square off with the Obama administration over the EPA, and forest thinning and fighting forest fires, and various other points of difference in air, ground and water policies.
All of which brings us to the bottom-line question. What do we want as U.S. citizens and taxpayers? Ever-deepening federal debt? Or truly significant budget cuts?
A shutdown of the Booth hatchery seems to be a threat from within the Obama administration. The hatchery isn’t specifically listed by name for closure in the House bill or the Senate bill.
The Booth hatchery is a remnant of an early time in South Dakota statehood. People decided to plant trout in Black Hills streams where trout weren’t found otherwise.
The same was true for Chinese ring-necked pheasants. They were privately imported and released in places such as the James River Valley.
After the Missouri River was dammed for flood control and hydropower, clear deep water of the reservoirs replaced the volatile muddy channel. The new Missouri became a good place for biologists to encourage the propagation of walleyes.
Later state Game, Fish and Parks biologists experimented with other fishery species in the reservoirs that weren’t part of the pre-dam Missouri’s eco-system, such as salmon, smallmouth bass, lake trout and tiger musky.
We’ve seen GFP encourage the spread of game species such as wild turkeys, elk, bighorn sheep and mountain goats.
Some think GFP is the hand behind the return of mountain lions.
Meanwhile the buffalo are largely gone, replaced by wheat and cattle and sheep and corn and soybeans and sunflowers.
The Booth hatchery is a symbol, of past policy, and present politics.