U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell once again called Thursday for McKinney Lake Fish Hatchery to be handed over to the state.
Kissell introduced H.R. 1160, calling for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to take possession of the fish hatchery from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan are expected to follow suit in the upper house of Congress.
The warm-water hatchery, located near Hoffman, provides catfish used to stock lakes across the state as part of the Community Fishing Program of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
“This hatchery is such an important resource to our local community here in Richmond County, and communities throughout the state,”Kissell said in a Thursday press release. “It only makes sense to transfer ownership to the people of North Carolina. The Wildlife Resources Commission’s work to provide our North Carolina families with a reliable and fun fishing experience is vital to continuing the rich history of our state. With passage of this bill, we can continue to reap the benefits of a healthy and productive recreational fishing industry for years to come.”
Identical legislation was introduced in the House and Senate last year, but failed to win the approval of both houses of Congress.
The NCWRC has operated the hatchery under a Memorandum of Agreement since 1996, and grows over 150,000 catfish per year for harvest and use in the state’s community fishing program. It is one of seven hatcheries in the state.
When legislation was introduced last year, Hatchery Superintendent Rick Bradford explained the only thing that would change if it passed was the sign out front.
“This has been on-going for 10 years, and this is the furthest it has gotten,” he commented at the time. “This is great progress. We’ve run into stumbling blocks along the way.”
Thursday, Planning & Operations Program Manager of the NCWRC Division of Inland Fisheries Kyle Briggs expressed the department’s appreciation for Kissell’s continued support.
“Through the transfer of the McKinney Lake Hatchery to the Commission, we will be able to continue providing valuable angling opportunities to the citizens of North Carolina,” he said.
The hatchery is located at 220 McKinney Lake Road, and holds an annual fishing day for children and other activities throughout the year. It is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 15, or by e-mail at email@example.com.