Aug 25, 2010 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
During last fall’s budget preparation, County Executive Joanie Mahoney was ready to pull the plug on Carpenter’s Brook Fish Hatchery in Elbridge. Less than a year later, she couldn’t be more opposed to it.
She attributes her turnaround to a tremendous job done by supporters of the hatchery on two fronts: analysis and fundraising.
Friends of Carpenter’s Brook provided the county with data that showed the hatchery’s impact on Onondaga County. The county’s stocked fish are provided entirely by Carpenter’s Brook, taking that task off the Department of Environmental Conservation’s budget.
“We have a reputation for being a great place to come fishing and that reputation relies almost solely on the stocking operations which we do on our own,” Mahoney said.
Carpenter’s Brook provides a level of quality unmatched by the state by raising fish for two years before releasing them, producing bigger trout for area fishers to catch. The hatchery raises more than 70,000 brook, brown, and tainbow trout annually.
The Friends of Carpenter’s Brook recently received an incredible boost in fundraising from Bass Pro Shops in Auburn. On Aug. 17 Bass Pro presented the Friends with a check for $11,000, a culmination of donations made by customers at the register or in a drop box since March, along with money raised from one dollar hot dogs and soda sold on weekends.
Carpenter’s Brook and Bass Pro have teamed up in the past. Bass Pro hosts a fishing event and ice fishing event during the year, and Carpenter’s Brook provides the fish. The events are meant to give kids who might not have the opportunity to fish a chance to experience the outdoors.
“We wanted to work with [the hatchery] somehow and come up with a means to make money so they would stay open,” said Rob Barber, operations manager of Bass Pro Shops in Auburn.
Bass Pro often donates to conservation groups and other organizations, having recently raised funds for Ducks Unlimited and the Rocky Mountain Elks Foundation. Barber said Bass Pro will direct support toward the hatchery whenever possible in order to “ensure that the next generation can enjoy the same activities in the outdoors that our fathers did.”
Bait the state
Because the hatchery provides a service that would otherwise be done by New York State, Onondaga County asked the state to cover the hatchery’s expenses.
“We asked that the [Department of Environmental Conservation] return 20 percent of the dollars that it raises from selling fishing licenses in the county to the county for that operation, which I think is a perfect solution,” Mahoney said. That percentage would cover the bulk of the hatchery’s annual costs of around $227,000.
The request was denied by the state, but Mahoney plans to keep at it. She noted being influenced by the hundreds of “I fish and I vote” faxes sent to her office since September and encouraged voters to turn their attention to the state.
“I can tell you as someone that had to be elected to have the job that I have, it matters to public officials to hear from people about what’s valuable.”