Fishing is Fun receives reprieve, federal money

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Moffat County hopes to snare some federal funds being made available for fishing improvement projects.

Beginning March 1, local communities and non-profit organizations are eligible for federal funding through Colorado's Federal Sportfish Restoration Act Money.

The funds are part of the Fishing is Fun Program that has been around for 13 years. The program is designed to develop and enhance public fishing access and amenities.

Organizations must submit grant applications that become part of a competitive review process. Grants will be awarded before April 2001. Organizations that receive money will have until Dec. 31, 2002, to complete their projects.

Moffat County has dropped its line into the funding waters.

Sheriff's Department Sgt. Tim Jantz and District Wildlife Manager Mike Bauman have collaborated on a grant application to build a trout pond on the property of the new Moffat County Public Safety Center. The pond will be for use by children and handicapped individuals only.

"Actually, Mike Bauman brought the package down," said Jerry Hoberg, Moffat County undersheriff. "We are planning a 15- to 20-foot deep pond on the southwest corner of the property. It will probably be aerated and have some type of moving water. With landscaping and fishing access points, it should look really nice."

According to Hoberg, the aeration will keep the water oxygenated to help the fish survive. Some type of waterfall will be used to keep the water moving to prevent algae and other vegetation from building up.

Hoberg believes that the fishing access points will be wheelchair accessible.

Fishing is Fun projects are currently in 54 of the state's 63 counties, including two in Moffat County. According to Ed Dumph, project administrator for the Fishing is Fun Program, a handicapped accessible boat ramp was constructed at Elkhead Reservoir with funds from the Fishing is Fun Program and a transportable aquarium display that usually stays at the Craig Sportsman's Center was funded by the program.

The additional federal funding that has become available will help make 4,100 surface water acres and 53 miles of new and improved fishing access available to the public. Already 39 boat ramps, 31 boat docks, 45 fishing piers, 14 bridges, 43 miles of angler access trails, 24 pond renovations, 65 parking lots and numerous other angler-related construction projects have been undertaken.

Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) fishery biologists estimate that more than one million extra angler recreation days have been generated by the Fishing is Fun projects. The DOW defines an angler day as any visit by a licensed angler during a 24-hour period.

Communities wanting to submit grant applications must contact their local district wildlife manager or another local DOW employee.

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