The McKinney Lake National Fish Hatchery in Hoffman, N.C., will officially become the property of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
President Obama on Dec. 28 signed into law a bill that transferred ownership of the hatchery from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, as part of a larger bill, S.3687.
The Commission has operated the warm-water fish hatchery under a Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1996 and annually produces more than 130,000 harvestable-sized (8-12 inches) channel catfish for stocking into public, inland waters.
“McKinney Lake is an important element of the Commission’s statewide hatchery system. In addition, the forested land associated with the hatchery will be integrated with the Commission’s wildlife management and forest stewardship activities,” said Gordon Myers, executive director of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. “This conveyance to the State of North Carolina helps ensure the continuation of 75 years of fish and wildlife conservation at this facility.”
The bill was introduced initially into Congress as H.R. 1160, McKinney Lake National Fish Hatchery Conveyance Act, by former Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC). It passed the House Committee on Natural Resources as well as the full House of Representatives in 2011.
In the Senate, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) led the effort to get the bill through the Environment and Public Works Committee and calendared for the full Senate. The bill was then rolled into a larger bill to ensure passage in the final days of the 112th Congress.
“We are extremely grateful to Rep. Kissell and Sens. Hagan and Burr for their support of this legislation,” Myers said. “This no-cost property transfer will enable the Commission to continue to provide and sustain opportunities for North Carolinians in all parts of our state, most notably in urban areas, to participate in family-friendly fishing activities.”
In addition to producing channel catfish, the fish hatchery hosts an annual children’s fishing day every June.
For more information on fishing in public, inland waters, visit www.ncwildlife.org/fishing.
Logo courtesy North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission