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SHAWN HAYES

VT needs your help!! Angler Action Needed This Weekend

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I realize this is a Lake Ontario forum. But my hopes are that our common ground of loving to fish and maintaining healthy fisheries is important to every fisherman everywhere. If this happens where will it stop. And who's state or fishery is next??-Shawn

Angler Action Needed This Weekend

Legislature Proposes Closing All Fish Hatcheries

Your Urgent Phone Calls Needed to Save Champlain Fisheries

Believe it or not, the Vermont Legislature has proposed closing all Vermont’s fish hatcheries in a stated effort to balance the state budget. While no legislator has been able to answer Lake Champlain International, Inc.’s request for how much money this would supposedly save, a number of Vermont legislators will not take the hatcheries “off the table†of budget cuts, and they continue to suggest they will have to be closed if other legislators and the Governor do not support their new tax package.

LCI believes our simple question has not been answered, because it cannot be answered: no Vermont taxpayer money will be saved as hatcheries are funded by our license dollars and the federal excise taxes on our equipment purchases. In fact, millions of dollars would be lost due to declining license sales, sales taxes, rooms and meals taxes, gas taxes and federal excise taxes. And none of this takes into account the environmental damage posed by allowing natives species to disappear from the ecosystem. Why propose closing the hatcheries at all then, especially when LCI, the Fish and Wildlife Department, the Vermont Traditions Coalition, and American Sportfishing Association have all presented the legislators with documentable financials on the value of fishing to Vermont and the Lake Champlain Basin?

Vermont’s State Auditor and certified public accountant Tom Salmon said this last week: “Discussion of closing fish hatcheries is a foolish gimmick; both financially unsound and short-sighted. Our Vermont brand and the outdoor sports that promote it should be preserved and protected. ...â€

Despite even the Auditor’s warning, legislators still continue to threaten us with the closure of the hatcheries, like this in the Burlington Free Press from the Vice Chair of the Human Services Committee Mike Fisher, “If we need to, we could cut another $50 million from the state budget. Many state services would cease. While no one knows the exact result, I expect that we would no longer stock our streams with fish …†We asked Representative Fisher, “Why?†He never responded.

If you share LCI’s opinion that the hatcheries are vital to the conservation of Lake Champlain and native Vermont species and the Vermont State Auditor’s opinion that closing them would be financially unsound, phone calls need to be made and emails need to be sent this weekend to the two people who still have the power to ensure financially self-sustaining and vital conservation operations like the hatcheries are taken “off the table†and stay “off the table†next year. We need your help with these calls and notes. Please call and/or write both of these legislators by Monday evening:

Shap Smith, Speaker of the House, (802) 888-9214, [email protected]

Peter Shumlin, Senate President Pro Tempore, (802) 387-4447, [email protected]

If either cannot be reached at their home numbers, you can leave a message at 800.322.5616.

If you would like more information, feel free to contact James Ehlers at [email protected] or 802.879.3466. Thank you for helping us ensure Lake Champlain and its fisheries prosper.

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