WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will keep federal fish hatcheries operating for now and won’t close them without a lengthy public review, U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, said Tuesday.
Crawford said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had reassured him there are no "imminent" plans to close the fish hatcheries, including those in Arkansas at Greers Ferry and Norfork.
"This is great news for Arkansas," Crawford said in a release.
Members of Arkansas’ congressional delegation last week wrote a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewel expressing their "grave concern" that she was studying a plan to close the hatcheries. They requested that the Fish and Wildlife Service provide at least a 60-day public comment period before taking any such action.
In an interview with reporters on Friday, Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe said that there were no "imminent" plans to close the hatcheries but cautioned that pending budget cuts in 2014 could imperil them.
Crawford said he plans to work toward a permanent solution to insure that the hatcheries remain open and jobs supported by these facilities are secure.