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McKinney Lake National Fish Hatchery Conveyance Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. KISSELL. I would like to thank my colleague for yielding time.

Mr. Speaker, I do rise in strong support of H.R. 1160, the McKinley National Fish Hatchery Conveyance Act. I'd like to thank the chairman, ranking member, and staff of the Natural Resources Committee for helping us put this bill together. I also want to thank those from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and those from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that also helped my staff in putting this together.

As said, the McKinley Fish Hatchery is 422 acres located in south central North Carolina, near Hoffman, North Carolina. It consists of 23 ponds with the main lake being McKinley. The water resources there cover 18 acres. This effort was first started in the mid-1990s; but due to structural problems on the dam of McKinley Lake itself, the conveyance was unable to be completed.

And as also mentioned, there's been a series of MOAs between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the North Carolina Wildlife Commission.

In the meantime, those structural problems have been satisfied. They're no longer an issue, and we're ready to proceed with this. There has been bipartisan support, with 10 of our colleagues in North Carolina cosponsoring this bill, and both Senators from North Carolina have signed off on similar legislation in the Senate.

The prime purpose and use of the fish hatchery now is in the community fishing program that's sponsored by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission taking fingerling-size channel catfish that are grown here in the hatchery throughout North Carolina to ponds and lakes in communities and allowing people from North Carolina who may not have access otherwise to come in and enjoy the pleasures of fishing. I'm especially proud of the efforts that are made for those that might have trouble with a handicap. It allows them access to fishing. And there are also programs designed to get our children involved and to grow up knowing the pleasures of fishing.

Once again, this is a win-win situation for all involved. I encourage my colleagues to vote ``yes'' and to make this conveyance complete.

* [Begin Insert]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Chairman, Ranking Member, and the Majority, and Minority Staff of the Natural Resources Committee for helping bring this bill to the floor today. I rise in support of H.R. 1160 the ``McKinney Lake National Fish Hatchery Conveyance Act,'' a bill I have introduced in both the 111th and 112th Congress.

Located in Hoffman, North Carolina the McKinney Lake Fish Hatchery is a warm water hatchery, and contains 23 ponds covering more than 18 acres of water. This primary use of the hatchery is growing fingerling-sized (3-4 inches) channel catfish to harvestable size (8-12 inches) for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's Community Fishing Program.

The Commission's Community Fishing Program provides angling opportunities to thousands of citizens, including children and disabled individuals, throughout the year. These Community Fishing Program sites are intensively managed bodies of water that receive monthly stockings of catchable-sized channel catfish from April-September. The McKinney Lake hatchery in conjunction with the Watha State Fish Hatchery near Wilmington provides the channel catfish for these monthly stockings. Many of these Community Fishing Program sites feature handicap-accessible fishing piers and solar-powered fish feeders helping to provide an enjoyable angling experience for citizens of all ages.

The ``McKinney Lake National Fish Hatchery Conveyance Act,'' while first introduced in the 111th Congress as H.R. 6115 and this congress as H.R. 1160 actually has its beginnings in 1995. At that time the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offered to transfer ownership and operation of this hatchery to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission to help meet the state's fisheries management objectives. However, due to the structural deficiencies of the lake's dam, the transfer was never completed. Since then, the dam issues have been corrected, and the NC Wildlife Resources Commission has had full management of the hatchery under a memorandum of agreement, MOA, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USFWS. The State of North Carolina and the USFWS have entered into 5 subsequent MOA's since 1995, with the most current being signed on November 10, 2009 and continuing until September 30, 2012.

H.R. 1160 was drafted by my staff with the cooperation, and consultation, of both the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and the USFWS. The product of this cooperation is a bill that has garnered the support of 9 bi-partisan original co-sponsors from the North Carolina House delegation, as well as companion legislation (S. 651) in the Senate. The Senate version is co-sponsored by both North Carolina Senators.

In conclusion, H.R. 1160 would complete a land conveyance that by all accounts should have occurred in the late 1990's. In addition the state of North Carolina would be able to continue producing catfish for the popular and important Community Fishing Program, on land and facilities that they would have ownership of. The State ownership of this land would incentivize them to make long term improvements and investments in the property, keeping it a viable fish hatchery. I appreciate the opportunity to stand in support of H.R. 1160 today, and would urge my colleagues to support the passage of this legislation.

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