COLUMBIA — A popular winter trout fishing program at a city park has been saved by the sponsorship of the Mid-Missouri Chapter of Trout Unlimited after the city cut its funding.
For the past five years, the city has provided half of the funds necessary to help the Department of Conservation run the program at Cosmo-Bethel Park, but this year it cut the funding from the budget.
"We went through the budget process and the City Council determined that the Parks and Recreation budget had to be reduced," said Mike Hood, director of the Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation. "They had a lot of possible options, and a lot of programs were identified to be reduced, and the trout fishing program was one of them."
The $2,600 that was cut is the amount that Trout Unlimited provided to keep the program running for at least one more year.
"We asked our 350 members for contributions and raised close to $1,000 privately," said Dean Rapp, president of the local chapter of Trout Unlimited. "Our annual fundraiser sets aside money each year and the board and membership agreed to use that to pay for it."
The winter fishing program, which runs Nov. 1 through early spring, may have to find another partner to help keep it running for the 2009-2010 winter season.
Tim Grace, regional fisheries supervisor for the state Department of Conservation, said the contribution from Trout Unlimited will allow his agency to stock the lake at Cosmo-Bethel Park with 2,400 rainbow trout this fishing season.
"We pay for half the cost of trout and our partner pays for the other half," he said.
Trout fishing at Cosmo-Bethel is catch-and-release from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31; trout can be kept from Feb. 1 into early spring. These restrictions keep the program going throughout the winter season.
"This is an excellent recreational opportunity, an opportunity to take youth and children out to trout fish without driving long distances," Rapp said. "We hope that with more exposure to the outdoors, more people will want to do things that are right for the environment."