unnamed (30)The Mohave County Parks Department is one of the county’s only self-sustaining departments.  “All revenue coming into the department is enough to pay for and maintain Davis Camp, the Hualapai Mountain Park and the five community parks around the county,” Supervisor Buster Johnson stated.  “Our Parks Department is able to provide quality park facilities and outdoor recreational opportunities for the residents of Mohave County without asking for or spending a dime of taxpayer dollars,” Johnson continued. In the past couple of years however, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors has voted on two occasions to sweep funds from the Parks Department.  The most current sweep being the funding of $50,000 for the stocking of trout at the Willow Beach Fish Hatchery.  Supervisor Buster Johnson was the lone vote against the funding.  “My vote was not against the fish, but against the funding source,” Johnson explained.  “We are sweeping funds from a fund that is self-sufficient.  If we continue to do this, our Parks Department will no longer be able to operate on their revenues alone,” Johnson said. The stocking of rainbow trout at the Willow Beach Fish Hatchery has long been of concern for Mohave County.  “The Hatchery is very important to our citizens,” Johnson said.  “The Hatchery brings in tens of millions of dollars in local economic revenue for our region.  The closing of the hatchery and the removal of the rainbow trout would be devastating to our region,” Johnson continued.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife almost defunded the stocking of rainbow trout at the Hatchery at the end of 2013 due to several problems one being the disrepair of the intake pipes that bring the cold Colorado River water into the tanks that hold the trout. The Arizona Game and Fish Department along with Mohave County worked in conjunction to bring the stocking program back to the Hatchery last April.  “While a short-term solution was found to get the trout program back into operation, a long-term solution is needed,” Johnson said.  According to Johnson, the funding for the hatchery should have come from the economic development fund.  “It would make more sense to fund this from that source than from our Parks Department,” Johnson said. While Mohave County has devoted $50,000 to the funding of the program, Johnson asks where the other cities are in this fight.  “This should be a joint effort between everyone to bring this program back,” Johnson said.  “I believe we should have worked with our partners, the cities, to offset costs to the county residents especially Bullhead City and Laughlin who receive the biggest benefits of this program,” Johnson said.  According to documents obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the majority of the rainbow trout are dropped near Davis Dam in Bullhead City.  Johnson also asked the board to table the item until more information could be brought back.   “We have no information as to what the money will buy as far as numbers,” Johnson said.  “There was no study or backup given to show that this $50,000 is even going to be enough to make a difference.  We have no idea if the money is too much or if we should have funded more,” Johnson explained.  “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife has stated that they will not do multiple drops of fish throughout the year anymore.  So we do not know the number of fish that will dropped nor the amount of money needed to drop them.  In talking to other fisheries the biggest cost is going to be transportation.  Along with that, there are a lot of things to consider such as the size of the fish and their survivability,” Johnson explained.  “I felt more information and options were definitely needed before we designated this money,” Johnson ended.

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