WARRENSBURG - Concerned by a recent vote by Warren County leaders endorsing actions to investigate the sale or shutdown of the Warren County fish hatchery, Warrensburg Councilman Dean Ackley has launched a campaign to save the facility and retain its present operations.
Ackley has phoned county supervisors and solicited support for his effort to save the fish hatchery, a 38- acre plot of land along the Hudson that hosts a fish-breeding operation and the county parks and recreation headquarters. The state acquired it in 1914, and the county has hosted operations there in recent decades. The land hosts about nine buildings.
"I believe in cutting taxes, but the fish hatchery property is a valuable asset we can't afford to lose," Ackley said Monday.
Dozens of schools regularly conduct tours at the fish hatchery, and various groups hold environmental field trips there, Ackley observed.
"Hundreds and hundreds of youth annually visit, and these tours offer valuable lessons in wildlife management," he said. "Well over a dozen organizations routinely use the property, besides being a remarkable educational resource for area youth."
He noted that county employees raise about 25,000 rainbow and brook trout and salmon per year in the facility, and those premium fish are stocked in area waterways.
"The county raises a better quality of fish than the state does elsewhere," he said.
Ackley said the fish hatchery offers economic benefits for the region.
The councilman said he'd talked to George Nemec, owner of Nemec's Sporting Goods in Warrensburg, and their enterprise sold about $300,000 annually in fishing equipment, and had about $70,000 in revenue. Dozens of other enterprises also reap substantial benefits related to maintaining a healthy fish population in the region, he said.
Dozens of families also use the fish hatchery pavilions, picnic areas and fields to hold wedding celebrations, reunions, and other special occasions, Ackley said.
"The hatchery is one thing the taxpayers don't mind paying for," he said.