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11:14 PM Sun, Dec. 09th

'Heads should roll' over Willow Beach hatchery snafu

I was one of the 80 or so attendees at the public meeting on the Willow Beach trout fiasco.

It was brought out that the reason that the water level in the Colorado River was so low in November - which resulted in a loss of thousands of trout - was due to a "miscommunication."

Seems that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (which also operates the hatchery at Willow Beach) had asked the Bureau of Reclamation (which operates Hoover Dam and controls the water releases) to lower the releases for a week so that threatened and endangered species in refugia ponds in Lake Mohave could be captured for release.

However, the Fish and Wildlife personnel working on that project apparently didn't bother to tell the Fish and Wildlife personnel at Willow Beach that they were doing this, so the Willow Beach people had no warning about the impending low flow.

As former Arizona Game and Fish Commissioner Larry Adams said when he spoke to the Board of Supervisors, "Heads should roll over this!"

And he is right.

But here is another point to consider.

Even if the $2.5 million in funds for needed repairs were given to Fish and Wildlife today, it would still be as long as four years before the first fish could be grown and put back in the river.

Can Mohave County, and our citizens and anglers, wait that long?

I don't think so.

Fishermen are funny folks. It they don't have a place to fish, they will move on and find another.

I think Mohave County Manager Mike Hendrix got it right.

Fish and Wildlife should use the money allocated for this year's now-defunct trout stocking program and buy trout in Colorado, where they are readily available.

The agency should have trout brought in and stocked in the Colorado River from Willow Beach to Bullhead City until the hatchery situation is resolved.

Besides the lack of fishing opportunity, millions of dollars in lost revenue are at stake here.