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An open letter from Roger Bloom, DFG Biologist, Wild and Heritage Trout Programs

Wild Trout Program broke, state stiffs Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission for six million dollars: Head of program forced to ask for private funding

March 10, 2009 -- Greetings wild trout enthusiast,

The Heritage & Wild Trout Program (HWTP) operations were severely impacted last Friday.  Although this is not the first challenge we have faced from the current fiscal crisis within the State, it is one of the most significant.  

The contract we established in 2007 with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) was put on indefinite hold.  This is due, in part, to the inability of the State of California to pay the invoices we have submitted.  The total amount owed PSMFC is approximately 6 million dollars and the stop work order initiated by PSMFC has far reaching effects even outside California.  This contract was the mechanism by which we hired and managed our statewide crew and associated staff.  We also used the contract to conduct research, help recover threatened trout, maintain our statewide wild trout database, establish public outreach programs, and various other HWTP activities. 

These are tough times for everyone and I hope that the HWTP can weather this storm.  We have made major strides in the last few years and my hope is that we donít lose the momentum that we have built.  In the last three years we have done more surveys, initiated more research, gave more public presentations,  written more reports, and designated more wild trout stream miles in one year (2008) than we have ever done in the history of the HWTP.  

Although I was presented the 2007 California Trout Streamkeeper Award for revitalizing the program, much of that credit also goes to my staff at headquarters.  I could not do what I need for the HWTP without Jeff Weaver, Stephanie Mehalick, and Donn Burton. Luckily, Jeff is permanent Associate Fisheries Biologist for the HWTP, however Stephanie is a contract biologist for PSMFC and Donn is a data technician for PSMFC.  Stephanie served not only as the leader for our statewide survey crew (leader for six fishery technicians) for the last two years, but also is a critical team member.  Without her services and the statewide survey crew, much if not all of the field activities will not happen.  Donn has worked for the HWTP for over 15 years.  His knowledge of the database and the associated files has been critical to the data entry, management, and continuity of the HWTP.  

I am writing you in hopes that we can find some funds to help keep Stephanie, Donn, and others employed.  It makes me very uncomfortable to ask folks for money, especially ones that already contribute so much time, energy, and funds to our wild trout resources.  Unfortunately, much of what has been gained in the way of momentum in last few years could be lost if we donít retain these folks and their extraordinary efforts. The need to find funding is time sensitive, as we are deciding on how to pursue work under the current restrictions imposed by the State.  The level of outside support may have a direct impact on how much, if any, work we can do this coming season.  Please contact me directly regarding any questions or funds that you may have. Thanks again for your support, Sincerely,

Roger K. Bloom

Roger K. Bloom Senior Fisheries Biologist
California Department of Fish and Game 
Fisheries Branch Leader Heritage & Wild Trout Program
1701 Nimbus Road 
Rancho Cordova, Ca. 95670
Office:  (916) 464-6355
Fax (916) 464-6357