LAKEGEORGE - For two years, downcounty politicians heave threatened to scrap the Warren County Fish Hatchery in Warrensburg.
But fierce lobbying efforts by upcounty sportsmen have saved the rare facility, which not only raises fish to stock area waterways, but features a popular picnic and recreation area for gatherings as well as a destination for environmental science students.
Now, a Queensbury woman - contrary to the position of many politicians from southern Warren county - is single-handedly seeking to boost the fortunes and protect the future of the hatchery.
She's now lobbying to make the historic hatchery an eco-tourist attraction, as well as raise awareness among natural science teachers and boost the facility's status as an educational resource.
"The fish hatchery is really impressive to me, and it's something we shouldn't just let go," she said, noting it is just one of three county-run hatcheries in the state. "We should all appreciate the assets we have locally."
She is also seeking to better and locally utilize the hatchery in an effort to boost local tourism, she said.
"If we promoted it properly and develop its programs, we could put many more 'heads in beds,'" she said.
Farrington said that decades ago she grew up with an orientation toward environmental stewardship, but it was a trip to a well-publicized and busy fish hatchery in tourism destination Branson, Mo. that really fueled her interest in reviving Warren County's similar facility.
At a recent county Board of Supervisors meeting, she lobbied county Tourism director Cate Johnson and county Public Works Superintendent Jeff Tennyson to print brochures about the hatchery, pinpoint it on tourism maps, advertise it on county websites, and erect signs around the county directing visitors to the facility.
Tennyson said Farrington's efforts were welcome.
"Our fish hatchery serves an important role in outdoor sports in Warren County," he said. "We do have the opportunity to create a tourist destination, and it's nice when a member of the public gets excited over it."
Tennyson said raising the fish hatchery profile would have its rewards, but people should realize it's already a vital resource.
"A recent state study indicated the hatchery has a huge impact on our local economy," he said.
Farrington wants to take it further.
After studying the marketing and utilization of the Branson hatchery, she's ready to lobby for similar initiatives here.
Naturalists, perhaps borrowed from the county's Up Yonda Educational Farm in Bolton, could teach children to fish - or the art of fly-tying - at the hatchery, she said. The hatchery's environmental displays, both indoor and outdoors, should be expanded, she added.
Visits to the hatchery by area students could be multiplied by hatchery employees giving introductory presentations at schools. Signs at the 29 waterways where the county stocks fish could host signs advertising that the fish were raised locally, she said.
The county could develop a mobile display set-up that could be trucked out to fishing derbys and other community events, she said.
Colorful, informative brochures depicting the hatchery could be distributed to area motels and accommodations. Signs should be scattered around the county leading tourists to the site, where regular tours could be conducted.
Her ideas were detailed in a 1,200-word email she sent out this week to county leaders.
Tennyson noted that such initiatives would be difficult with the hatchery's present staffing, after the deep cutbacks the county Parks & Recreation Department has endured for four years. The department has shed five positions over that time due to financial constraints and the hatchery now only has two employees, who are primarily busy raising fish.
"We're down to a skeleton crew now," Tennyson said.
Farrington said she was prepared to seek assistance and support in her campaign from area fish and game clubs.
Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty said Farrington's efforts were beneficial both for the county and the town of Warrensburg.
"Anything we can do to better utilize the county facility and make it more financially viable - including bringing in private donations - I'm all for it," he said.