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.

Not there.

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.


(3) comments


Nice try in blaming the White House. Do you really think the president has time to identify a fish hatchery in Spearfish to be cut? Blame this on those who are interested in cutting spending such as our freshmen house member.

You state "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?"

You forgot to mention cutting taxes for the rich and keeping a lower capital gains tax rate. This is a perfect example of tea party politics, South Dakotans are facing a paradox. We love spending cuts just not when they effect us.

I love the hatchery and would like for it to stay open. But we are facing the results of our unwillingness to fund great cultural places like this. We will see more cuts like this due to the fact that South Dakota gets a lot of money from the Federal Government. Across the board cuts were bound to hit us and there are probably be more to come unless congress finds a way to work together.


I'm sure there was a point in all that babble, but is indiscernible to me.


When thinking about this practically, the best thing about The Hatchery is that - in a pinch - we could eat the trout. In fact, what else matters? In the event of a stateside rusky invasion and the collapse of the food system here in The U.S., we could start mass-producing and canning fish for our countrymen. YOU BET!

Or, if Putin decides not to launch the invasion, I'd like to propose we start mass producing the fish anyway and exporting it to Canada. We could send them their first few boxes for free .. you know .. to get them hooked. Then, WE'RE IN THE MONEY. It's the least we can do to pay them back for their fantastic Black Hills Mining projects.

But seriously, folks, a computer algorithm decided which Fed-controlled entities to propose closing. This kind of extortionist-like threat to kill something so revered by so many wreaks of a cattle-prod for humans just smart enough to read, but not yet thinking on their own. The whole thing stinks worse than the dead trout I pulled out of pond #1 as a volunteer in Spring 2012. It was the kind of sweetly poignant stench you get coming out of D.C..

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