FENFH Meeting – June 18, 2012
June 18, 2012 at Clinchfield Railroad Museum
Further discuss creation of Friends Group of Erwin NFH. Review of all documentation needed to file (for tax purposes) under National Friends Group
John Robinette, FWS; Michelle Stevens, FWS; Matt Moses, USA Raft and Interim President; Doug Bowman, County Commission; Greg Lynch, County Mayor; Tim Lingerfelt, Town of Erwin; Martha Erwin, Unicoi County Heritage Museum/Clinchfield Railroad Museum
* Presentation of a bill introduced into the House of Representatives that would help secure the future of Erwin NFH’s role of providing fish for the tourism industry. The bill is HR-5931.
Doug Bowman presented a bill (HR-5931) to the group which would secure the future of Erwin NFH. His plans are to write a letter to Senator Alexander in order to garner acknowledgment and support for the bill. A list of facilities and Congressional contacts for states receiving eggs from Erwin NFH was presented to all members of the meeting which includes the states of Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The effects of a closure were discussed and how negatively it would impact the immediate community (for example: Wal-Mart in Erwin generates several million dollars a year with regards to trout fishing and the manager has indicated layoffs would be imminent should the Erwin NFH close).
It was also discussed that Senator Alexander had been promised by Ken Salazar, United States Secretary of Interior that Erwin and Dale Hollow Fish Hatchery would continue operating until efforts to pursue funding from TVA and Corps of Engineers have been exhausted.
* Discussion and review of documentation needed to file (for tax purposes) and create Friends Group of Erwin NFH under National Friends Group
Reviewed Guiding Principles, Cooperating Association Agreement, By-Laws, and Mission Statement for relationship between FWS and Friends Group of Erwin NFH. With some minor changes to those documents, they will be ready to be forwarded to National Friends Group.
* Signage issue on Interstate-26. Progress, if any?
Matt Moses contacted TDOT for questions regarding signage on I-26 to inform travelers in both directions about existence of Erwin NFH, Heritage Museum, and Clinchfield Railroad Museum. His information was beneficial; however, he was told Erwin NFH would have to follow the same application process as a for profit business. Through further investigation it appears an application under “Agritourism Tourist Oriented Direction Signs (TODS)” would be the best approach to getting signs on both I-26 East and West. There is a $25 application fee, which Matt said USA Raft would graciously donate to get things kicked off. There is also $200 fee per sign and annual renewal fee of $50 per sign, which will attempt to be added into Erwin NFH yearly budget.
* Website setup up and design?
At this time, there is no one who knows of or has found anyone interested in website design. Matt will continue asking around as he has quite a few people moving through his business this time of year.
* Meeting frequency?
All are in agreement monthly meetings would successfully meet the needs of the Friends Group. With this being the middle of summer, we will forgo a July meeting due to travel schedules, work conflicts, and out of town business. The next meeting will be August 7, 2012 at 6pm. It will again take place at Clinchfield Railroad Museum.
There was conversation amongst all attendees about the possibility of a fishing tournament on the Nolichucky River sometime in October or forward. There are multiple people and local businesses who have already committed to helping and/or donating time and services. Biggest concern is liability? Can we get Wounded Warriors involved? Involvement of Project Healing Waters through Trout Unlimited?
* Old Business