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McCain: Reopening hatchery near Hoover Dam a boon to Mohave County

BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. — An agreement formalized Friday to reopen a damaged federal fish hatchery that had stocked rainbow trout below Hoover Dam will bolster the economies of Mohave County and Nevada’s Clark County, U.S. Sen. John McCain said.

“We’re going to provide the ability for thousands and thousands of not only residents but visitors to enjoy trout fishing and enjoy one of the most beautiful parts of the state,” said McCain, who joined officials from the Arizona Game and Fish Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at a ceremony.

In August 2013, a pipeline feeding water to the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery, about a 90-minute drive north of here, clogged and cut off the supply to raceways used for rainbow trout, killing tens of thousands of fish. A few months later, the pipe broke, killing more fish and leaving the hatchery unable to stock Lake Mohave with trout.

Before the damage, the hatchery was stocking 144,000 rainbow trout annually and kept a one-year supply of trout on hand.

Under the agreement reached in March, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will split the nearly $800,000 cost of repairing the pipeline.

Fed by cold water from the bottom of Lake Mead, the Colorado River flowing into Lake Mohave is a prime trout fishery and a magnet for anglers. An analysis by the Arizona Game and Fish Department found that trout fishing has an economic impact of about $75 million annually and supports hundreds of jobs in Mohave and Clark counties.

“This saves a significant portion of Mohave County, and we are deeply, deeply grateful,” said Steven Moss, chairman of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors.

Benjamin Tuggle, Southwest regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which operates the hatchery, said the agreement offers benefits beyond the area’s economy.

“Fishing is not only an economic generator all over the country but really is a connection to conservation,” he said.

The agreement calls for Fish and Wildlife to produce rainbow trout for stocking for five years and truck in trout until repairs are completed, which is expected to happen by the fall.

The hatchery continues to breed endangered fish by using a pipeline that works only when the lake is high enough and by filtering and reusing water. Under the agreement, the federal agency will supply Game and Fish with 160,000 Apache trout eggs for 10 years.