On Sunday, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law that will require the Secretary of the Interior to convey the McKinney Lake National Fish Hatchery to the State of North Carolina, according to the office of outgoing Congressman Larry Kissell.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved the bill earlier in 2012 that would convey the fish hatchery in Hoffman from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
“A few years ago the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asked the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to take over control and funding for the fish hatchery due to a lack of federal funds,” said Chris Dillon, legislative liaison for the commission, six months ago. “The state has been maintaining the property and operations since that time.”
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has operated the McKinney Lake Fish Hatchery under a Memorandum of Agreement since 1996. Now the commission can take control of the land.
“It’s exciting,” said Hatchery Superintendent Rick Bradford on Wednesday. “We’ve been waiting for this for 15 years. Nothing is really going to change — it will be business as usual — but now the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will take ownership of the property.”
According to David Deaton, fish production supervisor for the commission, the state spends about $320,000 annually maintaining the hatchery and its operations.
“We’re just trying to officially take ownership of the property,” said Dillon at the beginning of this process several months ago. “Nothing about the operations would change, but we wouldn’t have to go through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make decisions. We would like to thank the House and Senate for working with the commission on this. It’s been a long process.”
According to Bradford, the hatchery produces and stocks “catfish for public waters, and on occasion other species.”
The bill was introduced in Congress initially as H.R. 1160, McKinney Lake National Fish Hatchery Conveyance Act, by U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC). It passed the House Committee on Natural Resources as well as the full House of Representatives, which it passed as well, according to Kissell’s office.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.