Tim Johnson gets stuff done! South Dakota's senior Senator questioned Deputy Secretary of the Interior nominee Mike Connor Tuesday on the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has short-sightedly threatened to close. Evidently a little Congressional scrutiny has encouraged Interior to look a little harder for ways to keep Spearfish's hatchery open:
The D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery is a huge asset to Spearfish, with over 150,000 visitors each year and an estimated $2.1 million annual economic impact. The survival of the hatchery is vital, and it is important to be sure we don’t permanently lose key federal sites while navigating current budget pressures.... In response to my questions, Mr. Connor indicated that the Department of Interior has a short-term strategy to maintain funding for Spearfish and other hatcheries, and that the Department will work with members of Congress on the long-term sustainability of their budgets. This is great news for Spearfish, and I’ll continue to do all I can to keep D.C. Booth up and running [Senator Tim Johnson, press release, 2013.09.17].
Also helping the feds find the will to keep the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery open is Spearfish's new mayor Dana Boke, who led a delegation of Booth Society boosters to Washington last week to make the case for one of the prettiest federal facilities in South Dakota. Well done, Mayor Boke!
And for good measure, Rep. Kristi Noem has finally caught up with the rest of South Dakota's delegation in supporting the Booth Hatchery. The Rapid City Journal reports that Rep. Noem sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell yesterday explaining the economic impacts of closing the hatchery. That makes South Dakota's Congressional delegation unanimous in telling FWS that closing the D.C. Booth Hatchery is a bad idea for all parties involved.