Pa. avoids 'nuclear option' that would have cut 200,000 stocked trout

Written by John Buffone/The York Daily Record | Jul 13, 2018 1:14 PM

Robert Hedge gets help from his son, Tucker, 8, as they volunteer to stock trout at the western branch of the Conococheque Creek in Fort Loudon on Friday, March 9, 2018. Fishing season starts Saturday, March 31 in Franklin County. (Photo: Markell DeLoatch, Public Opinion)

(Undated) -- For the time being, Pennsylvania anglers won't have to worry about a decrease in trout stocking.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has decided to delay a $2 million cut to programs that was supposed to go into effect this month. The cuts would have closed hatcheries and severely cut back trout stocking within the state.

State Rep. Keith Gillespie, R-Hellam Township, applauded the PFBC's decision, saying it would have led to a loss of jobs and hindered the experience for fishing enthusiasts in Pennsylvania.

"Pressing the button would have been the nuclear option," Gillespie said. "If they would have closed the hatcheries and cut back on the stocking, it would have caused a lot of damage."

Gillespie, the majority chairman of the House Game and Fisheries Committee, has been heavily involved with new legislation that would allow the PFBC to set its own license fees.

"It'll be about 14 years they have gone without an increase," Gillespie said. "I think most realize that they can't continue to function and offer the services to the sportsmen and women of the commonwealth without having an increase."

Volunteers helped to stock creeks in the west end of Franklin County on Friday, March 9, 2018. Fishing season opens on Saturday March 31 in the local area. Markell DeLoatch/The Chambersburg Public Opinion

The legislation, known as Senate Bill 30, easily passed the Senate and is awaiting a vote in the House.

"I'm an optimistic person," said Gillespie "There are some dissenters among the general assembly that are not in favor of giving them the authority to set their own prices with legislative oversight. But we are confident that the votes are there to get it passed."

Gillespie said if the bill passes, there could be a six to seven dollar increase on basic fishing licenses phased in over a few years.

Though things could be changing behind the scenes, Gillespie believes the delay in program cuts will maintain a quality experience for fishermen in the state.

"People aren't going to see a 200,000 trout reduction that would have been a result of this cutback," Gillespie said. "There are going to be that many more trout for the average angler to pursue in the streams."

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The York Daily Record.

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