April 11th Action Required


Arizona Fishing Report Officer
Dec 15, 2010
If you're an Arizona resident, you are encouraged to respond by April 11th:

PHOENIX - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) today (March 10, 2011) made available for review a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) on FWS’s proposal to continue to provide Sport Fish Restoration funds to AGFD to continue the state’s long-standing program of stocking fish for public recreational opportunities, and for hatchery operations and maintenance.

Members of the public are encouraged to review and provide comment on the draft EA, as it has ramifications for the future of both sport fish angling and native fish conservation in Arizona. The deadline to submit comments is April 11, 2011.

Under the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950, federal funding is provided to state wildlife agencies for management and restoration of sport fish. In fiscal year 2011, Arizona received over $7 million in Sport Fish Restoration Act funds.

Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), federal agencies are required to analyze potential environmental effects of any action they propose to implement, approve, or fund. Because AGFD receives federal funds used to support its stocking program (along with state funds from the sale of licenses and trout stamps), the agency is required to complete an environmental assessment process to allow it to continue receiving those federal funds.

This draft EA is a part of the federally required NEPA compliance.

”Support of sport fisheries is an important part of the work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Steve Robertson, Chief of the FWS division of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program. “By working with the state we are able to help provide recreational fishing opportunities while being mindful of the need to protect and restore native fish populations.”

“In a way, we do a balancing act,” said AGFD Fisheries Chief Kirk Young. “On one hand, Game and Fish wants to provide the public with enjoyable fishing opportunities, which create a huge economic benefit to the state. Yet on the other hand, as a wildlife agency, we also need to consider and manage for the needs of nongame and threatened and endangered wildlife, including native fish. Our proposed conservation and mitigation measures enable us to do that.”

The draft EA analyzes a range of three possible actions or alternatives. The Proposed Action would allow AGFD to continue its stocking program at 167 sites for 10 years. The Proposed Action also includes a conservation program to mitigate impacts to federally listed threatened, endangered, and candidate species, and other sensitive native species of fish, amphibians and semi-aquatic reptiles. This is the preferred course of action for both AGFD and FWS.

“Basically, for the recreating public, there would be little if any discernible difference in their fishing opportunities across the state if the Proposed Action in the draft EA is selected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” Young said.

There are two other alternative actions listed in the draft Environmental Assessment – A “No Action” alternative that would result in the FWS not providing funding for the stocking of sport fish to the Arizona Game and Fish Department and, in essence, the department’s fish stocking program would cease; and a “Reduced Stocking" alternative, which would eliminate 66 stocking sites throughout the state (La Paz County Park Lagoon, Hulsey Lake, Nelson Reservoir, Lyman Reservoir, C.C. Craigin (Blue Ridge Reservoir), Knoll Lake, Clear Creek Reservoir, Mud Tank, Kinnikinick Lake, Coconino Lake, Morton, Ashurst Lake, Marshall Lake, Mormon Lodge Pond, Upper Lake Mary, Lower Lake Mary, Luna Lake, Big Lake, Black River East Fork, Black River West Fork, Workman Creek, Tonto Creek, Christopher Creek, Haigler Creek, Canyon Lake, Saguaro Lake, Tempe Town Lake, Salt River Lower, Parker Canyon, Patagonia, Pena Blanca, Rose Canyon, Granite Basin Lake, Dead Horse Lake, Verde River Middle, Oak Creek, Wet Beaver Creek, West Clear Creek, East Verde River, Green Valley Lake, Bass Tank, Blue Tank, Alvord Lake, Chaparral Lake, Cortez Lake, Desert Breeze Lake, Desert West Lake, Encanto Lake, Evelyn Hallman Pond, Kiwanis Lake, Papago Ponds, Rio Vista Pond, Riverview Lake, Steele Indian School Pond, Crossroads Park, McQueen Park, Bonsall Park, Granada Park, Roadrunner Park, Eldorado Park, Indian School Park, Vista del Camino Park, Tempe Papago Park, Water Treatment, Discovery District Park and Selleh Park).

In addition to providing an overview of the factors affecting threatened and endangered species over time, the draft EA also analyzes the economic impacts of fish stocking and associated outdoor recreation.

How to obtain copies and comment on the draft EA:

The draft EA is available online at www.azgfd.gov/fishea or at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/federal_assistance/. Additionally, hard copies of the draft EA may be viewed at the AGFD Phoenix Headquarters or regional field offices across the state. For a list of addresses, visit www.azgfd.gov/offices.

Comments or requests for copies of the draft EA on CD may be submitted by e-mail to fw2fa@fws.gov or fishaz@azgfd.gov or to:

Ms. Brie Darr, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 1306, 500 Gold Ave. SW, Ste 9019, Albuquerque, NM 87103. Telephone: (505) 248-7457, Fax: (505) 248-7471, or

Mr. Dave Weedman, Habitat Branch, Arizona Game and Fish Department, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086. Telephone: (623) 236-7607, Fax (623) 236-7366.

All comments will be accepted through 5 p.m. on April 11, 2011.

Once the 30-day public comment period ends, the comments will be considered for incorporation into a final EA. Then a decision will be made by FWS as to the significance of the impacts.

Additional background

Each year, the Arizona Game and Fish Department stocks more than 3 million fish in Arizona’s lakes, rivers and streams for anglers to catch – mostly rainbow, Apache, or other trout, but some warmwater species such as largemouth bass and channel catfish as well.

Recreational angling in Arizona totaled 4,156,000 angling days in 2006, creating a statewide economic impact of more than $1.3 billion annually.
Arizona’s native fish fauna historically consisted of 36 species of fish, only a few of which were historically sought for sport fishing.

Since the early 1900s, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and other agencies have supplemented recreational angling opportunities by stocking state waters with sport fish species.

Fish stockings have evolved over the past 100 years or so to meet growing needs of anglers in Arizona. Now the Arizona Game and Fish Department considers a wide range of factors when determining where and when to stock fish, including biology, angler use, partnership commitments and needs, native fish impacts and social demands.

Although most of the trout species caught in Arizona likely come from fish hatcheries, most of the warmwater species in the state – especially those in the larger impoundments such as Roosevelt Lake – come from natural reproduction.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s mission includes conservation, and for decades the Department has been a national leader when it comes to native species management efforts.

“We continually strive to do what is right for native fish and all other wildlife species in the state, while also balancing the recreational needs of the public,” said Young.

The federal funding apportioned to Arizona is authorized under the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950, commonly referred to as the Dingell-Johnson Act and Wallop-Breaux Act. It provides federal aid to state wildlife agencies for management and restoration of sport fish.

These Sport Fish Restoration funds are derived from a federal excise tax at the manufacturing level on certain items of sport-fishing tackle, fishing equipment and motor boat fuel – a user pay, user benefit program.

Since 2000, the state of Arizona has received over $77 million in Sport Fish Restoration funds.