90% reduction

White House budget proposal reducing Great Lakes funding may impact Allegheny Fish Hatchery

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Funding for the Alllegheny National Fish Hatchery would be significantly reduced under President Trump’s recently released budget proposal.

President Donald Trump’s budget calls for a 90 percent reduction in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)funding.

That would – in turn – significantly affect the operations of the Allegheny National Fish Hatchery located at the base of the Kinzua Dam.

According to the Associated Press, the president’s 2020 budget offers $30 million for the GLRI, which gets $300 million most years. It removes toxic pollution, prevents algae blooms and species invasions, and restores wildlife habitat.

“About 32 percent of our current budget has been made up of GLRI funding,” Gavin Shire, Chief of Public Affairs for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told the Times Observer on Thursday.

Shire said the Hatchery’s total budget is $890,000.

Allegheny National Fish Hatchery operations over the last several years have been targeting increases in the lake trout population – and feeder species – on Lake Ontario.

According to the GLRI, $266,751 was provided in 2018 to the Allegheny hatchery to “maintain and enhance lake trout production capabilities at Allegheny NFH.”

An additional $36,615 was provided to “restore native coregonid prey base” in Lake Ontario.

GLRI funding accounted for $319,410 of the hatchery’s operating funds in 2017 and $521,200 in 2016, according to a project listing.

Shire said the hatchery would still be able to operate without GLRI funding and “only with significant impacts to operations.”

“The hatchery would have to significantly reduce trout production and would not be able to stock tributary streams in Lake Erie in the fall,” he explained. “They would also need to eliminate the aquaculture program for restoration of native lake herring and bloater chub, prey species that historically supported salmon, lake trout and other important recreational fish species. Efforts to improve hatchery infrastructure and operational efficiency would be eliminated or delayed.”

According to the Associated Press, five governors – including Gov. Tom Wolf and the governors of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio – have opposed the president’s cut to the GLRI program.

“The governors said Wednesday the cut would cost jobs, hurt tourism and jeopardize public health. They urged Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, a former Indiana governor, to fully fund the program,” according to the Associated Press. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said numerous states, local governments and others also support the program and that more details on the federal role will be released later.”