Trout Letter

Senator James Seward

Dear Mr. Steward,

Fish stocking in Schoharie County, 10% decrease this year.
We supported a license fee increase last year so we would not lose our
Programs or cuts in them. There are funds in the conservation budget now.
The Governor has moved the salary of thirty employees from the general
Fund to the conservation fund. We did not support this. The early retirement
Program has left DEC short on employees to run our hatchery, due to the fact
Of the hiring freeze by Governor Pataki . The conservation budget has the
Money to hirer back new employees to fill these jobs lost to early retirement.
We would support hiring back new employees. We would like any help you could
Give us in having bigger trout stock in our stream, ponds and reservoirs in
Schoharie County. DEC (Norm McBride-607-652-7366) only stock one year old
Trout (7 to 9 inches long) in Schoharie County area now. Other counties have two
Year trout being stock .We are only looking for a mixer of 1 and 2-year trout.
We would also like to have the Cobleskill Reservoir classified as a put and
Take reservoir with double the amount of trout stock this year than last year.
People come from all over the county to fish here and some from outside the
County. Trout will not reproduce in Cobleskill Reservoir.
DEC had been operating its hatchery system with an
Exemption to the state hiring freeze for 80 staff. That exemption was
Rescinded due to the fiscal state of New York. The number of staff in
Our hatchery system dwindled (due to promotions, retirements, other
Employment opportunities, etc.) To 74 and, without an exemption to the
Hiring freeze, they were faced with reduced production capacity in our
Hatchery system. Based on staffing levels at our fish culture
Facilities during spring/ summer 2002,they proposed a reduction in the
Number of brown trout to be reared (proposed reduction in production of
100,000 brown trout yearlings).
The Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources attempted to get
The exemption for the hatchery system reinstated so that we could
Operate our system at full production. Instead of the exemption, they
Received 6 waivers for individual positions within the hatchery system.
They filled those 6 positions by late fall 2002 and operated close to
Full capacity last winter.
In March 2003, the state, faced with an increasing fiscal crisis
Offered DEC employees a retirement incentive. Six fish culture staff
Retired under the incentive and 2 others left for other reasons. They
Were able to fill 2 of the positions vacated by retirement as part of
The DEC's staffing plan. They did their best to get all the fish stocked
Last spring with the reduced staff in the hatchery system. Distribution
Of the fish was difficult last spring, but Mother Nature cooperated with
Cool temperatures and lots of rain which allowed us to still stock the
Trout into waters with suitable conditions.
Currently, they have 73 positions in the hatchery system and are faced
With the problem of too few staff to operate the hatchery system at full
Production and to distribute the fish raised into New York's waters in a
Timely manner. In order to alleviate the stress on the system and its
Employees will reduce production at the two facilities where staffing
Shortages are most problematic: Rome Hatchery and Catskill Hatchery. The
Plan to reduce overall (statewide) brown trout production by 100,000
Yearlings for spring 2004. They will stock out additional brown trout as
Fall fingerlings to reduce the carrying capacity of the hatchery system
To a more manageable level. They are stocking out 50,000 brown trout from
Each of the two hatcheries as fall fingerlings which will reduce the
Number of yearling brown trout we will stock next year from about 1.865
Million to 1.765 million.
The reason for the 100,000 fish level of reduction in 2003 and 2004 is
Due to similar reduced staffing levels in 2002 and 2003.
Additionally, they will be working with Regional Fisheries Management
Staff to try to reduce the number of trips that the hatchery drivers
Make to distribute the trout. This may involve reductions in the number
Of increment stockings in a few waters, reduction in the number of
Smaller waters stocked, etc. They will work out the details this fall/
Winter with the Regional and hatchery staffs.
The goal, as always, will be to provide the best fishing possible given
Our resources - without placing undue stress on the system and the
System components (including staff). We are hopeful that conservative
Reductions now will help us prevent potentially catastrophic problems
From overly taxed system and staff.
As to when they will see an improvement in staffing levels in the
Hatchery system or in any of our Regional Units or other Units - it is
Anyone’s guess. At a recent meeting with Lake Ontario stakeholders, I
Said for the remainder of 2003-04, it does not look like we will see any
Staff level relief - optimistically, we might see something in
2004....... (I believe that is the source of projected date as 4/1/04
For, potentially, more staff).
Bottom line in all of this: They filled the 6 positions last year when
They had the opportunity; staff attrition has occurred since last year and
They are at the same staffing level a year later; resulting in a
Reduction in our production capability for the hatchery system.

Over all this mean the lost of 100,000 Brown Trout for Schoharie County this
Year. There is money in the conservation budget to repair this. Let not lose
The stocking total of fish that we have had in previous years. It seem that
When we cut back we never get back to the original amount. Just like the
Stocking program we lost in the 1930 years.
Two years ago the sportman/sportwomen push to have a license fee increase
(Which did happen) to have money in the budget to keep enough employees so our programs were not cut. There is money in the budget now.
I would appreciate any help you can give that would stop DEC. from doing this and to help
Hire back the employees that were lost due to the early retirement program.

Thank you,

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