Today, U.S. Senators John Thune (R-South Dakota) and Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota), and Representative Kristi Noem (R-South Dakota) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell requesting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) conduct a cost benefit analysis of any proposal to relocate the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery Archives. The delegation’s letter also requests answers to a number of questions from FWS to define the logic behind and clarify the need for the archive relocation.
The delegation writes, “We are disappointed that the FWS is once again targeting the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery. We respectfully ask that before any further action is taken with regard to the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery, that the FWS provide us with a cost benefit analysis of the proposal to relocate the D.C. Booth Archives to the NCTC in West Virginia.”
More than 155,000 people visit the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery in Spearfish each year. The facility currently houses 175,000 artifacts that are open and accessible to the public and researchers from across the country, including researchers for the FWS. Because the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery receives relatively few federal dollars annually, which are highly leveraged using a private to federal funding ratio of approximately 60/40 in addition to 14,000 hours of volunteer labor each year, the delegation’s letter points out that D.C. Booth is a model example of presidential and secretary youth initiatives and should not be a target for closure or personnel reduction.
According to recent media reports, the FWS may be considering moving a portion of the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery Archives located at the Spearfish facility to the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. This move by the FWS comes in spite of a stipulation from Congress that no National Fish Hatchery be closed this year and follows an increase of $6 million to the agency’s budget.
NCTC is a closed training facility that offers no general public access, which leads the delegation to question whether the 175,000 artifacts currently located at D.C. Booth would be accessible to the public if they are moved to NCTC.
The text of the delegation’s letter follows:
June 24, 2014
Secretary Sally Jewell
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20240
Dear Secretary Jewell:
Over the past year, you have heard from of each of us regarding our concerns with indications from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives may be targeted by FWS to lose FWS funding and personnel. Most recently, we have learned that FWS may be considering moving a portion of the Archives located at the Spearfish, South Dakota, facility to the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and otherwise relocating the rest of the D.C. Booth Archives to one or more other locations.
On June 3, 2014, Matt Hogan, the deputy regional director of FWS’ Mountain Prairie Region was quoted in the Black Hills Pioneer saying that the FWS is “strongly considering relocating D.C. Booth’s archives in order to transfer money to higher priority facilities.” Despite a stipulation from Congress of no National Fish Hatchery closures and an increase of $6 million, we are disappointed that the FWS is once again targeting the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery and we respectfully ask that before any further action is taken with regard to the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery, you provide us with a cost benefit analysis of the proposal to relocate the D.C. Booth Archives to the NCTC in West Virginia. We respectfully request that you demonstrate that the decisions the FWS is making regarding the future of the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery and Archives are based on a sound business case.
In addition to the cost-benefit analysis we also request answers to the following questions regarding the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives:
- Has the FWS requested and obtained bids for the costs of relocating all the artifacts in the archives to new locations?
- Will the artifacts be shipped according to the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) standards?
- Will a professional museum/archives moving company be used to move the artifacts?
- The D.C. Booth collection is approximately 20 years older and seven times larger than the collection at NCTC. Does NCTC have adequate storage space and DOI compliant facilities to store the portion of the archives to be sent there?
- The archival facility at DC Booth was constructed because of an appropriation from Congress so that the collection, which is largely western in scope, would be accessible to the American public. To our knowledge, NCTC is not accessible to the public. What measures will be taken to assure that the DC Booth collection would be accessible to the public from the Midwest and Western United States?
- Will the other locations that are designated to receive artifacts be limited to those with DOI-compliant facilities?
The D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives has been an integral part of the Spearfish community, and the FWS, for over 100 years. Additionally, over 155,000 people visit the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery annually, and it provides jobs and volunteer opportunities for many people in the Black Hills area. The D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery currently houses 175,000 artifacts which are open and accessible to the public and researchers across the country, including researchers for FWS. The D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery receives relatively few federal dollars annually. These federal funds are highly leveraged with a private/federal funding ratio of approximately 60/40. D.C. Booth is not a mitigation hatchery and has taken it upon itself to seek out and create such partnerships. The D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery also utilizes over 14,000 hours of annual volunteer labor making it a model example of presidential and secretary youth initiatives.
Currently, artifacts housed in the archives are displayed for the public viewing in exhibits both inside and outside of the archives itself, and in the museum. Exhibits are rotated with some regularity. We question the cost-effectiveness of moving the archives, and the 175,000 artifacts contained within the archives, as it seems to us that the FWS is planning on maintaining the current exhibits, which utilize these artifacts.
We find it unacceptable for FWS to relocate the artifacts housed at the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery and Archives or make plans to limit or remove financial or personnel support of the facility without full knowledge of whether there are any savings realized, efficiencies improved, better service to the public, or other benefits. We look forward to working with you further on this matter and respectfully ask that you provide the requested information before any further action is taken, including reduction of FWS personnel by the FWS regarding the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery and Archives.Sincerely,