Media Contact: Flanagan - Int. 2879 or Sater - Int 2809
For Immediate Release: March 8, 1959

The 130,000 man-days of recreational fishing which a fishery management program provided to visitors alone on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Whiteriver, Ariz., in 1958 is creating considerable interest in similar programs on other Indian reservations, especially in the West, the Department of the Interior reports.

The successful recreational enterprise program on Fort Apache was based upon fishery management spearheaded by the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Similar programs have been in effect in other areas--the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and on other reservations--for a number of years.

Sport fishing programs are just getting underway on the Uintah-Ouray Reservation in Utah, with its 23 miles of trout streams; on the Navajo Reservation which is in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, with its 4 trout lakes, 30 warm water lakes and 32 miles of streams; on the Yakima and Colville Reservations in Washington, and on the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina.

Providing such assistance to Federal agencies and institutions is part of the over-all responsibility of the Fish and Wildlife Service. Programs are in effect in other areas and on Federal lands other than those on Indian reservations.

Very little has been done in the past on the development of the fishery potentials on Indian lands. State Departments of Fish and Game have not been able to service the Indians in most instances since State fishing licenses are not required of the Indians and no protection was afforded the fish.

As a result of the assistance and encouragement provided by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indians are realizing the value of their sport fishery resources as a means of recreation and food and revenue.

Some of the tribes in the Southwest don’t eat fish to any great degree but the younger Indians are eager for them, both for the fun of catching them and as a highly desirable food. There are practically 53 million acres of Indian land in the United States exclusive of Alaska and the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife is giving limited advice and services on reservations occupying about 16 million acres.

The task of the Bureau at Fort Apache has been to supply the fish and the "know how" - help develop plans, conduct field surveys and layout development programs. The Apache tribe carried on from there. The Indians have assisted in making counts of fishermen, in the actual stocking of the fish, in providing the wardens or investigative force and in the development of picnic areas and campgrounds especially for fishermen. They have developed new ponds and protected streams against erosion and overgrazing in some instances.

The Indians benefitted by having better fishing and by adding to their tribal funds through the sale of permits to those who fished in the waters on the Reservation. The sale of supplies and food and rental of overnight accommodations adds to the revenue.

Fish for the Fort Apache program was furnished by the Bureau's McNary, Arizona, Fish Cultural station. About 40,000 pounds, or about 250,000 catchable sized fish, were planted on the project. This represents slightly more than half of the 1958 output from the McNary hatchery. The balance of the production was allotted to the state.

When the fishing potential on that Reservation is completely developed, there will be 11 trout lakes having 374 surface acres, three warm-water lakes with 155 surface acres and 320 miles of streams.

Potentials on other Indian reservations, some of which are developed, but most of which are not, include:

  • Wind River, Wyoming: 300 trout lakes, 4,000 surface acres, and 1,200 miles of streams.
  • San Carlos, Arizona: 45 miles of streams.
  • United Pueblo Tribes, New Mexico: 16 trout lakes, 76 surface acres, and 35 miles of streams.
  • Mescalero Apache, New Mexico: 12 miles of streams.
  • Jicarilla Apache, New Mexico: one trout lake, 35 surface acres, some warm water lands and reservoirs.
  • Ute Mountain, Colorado and New Mexico: three trout lakes, six surface acres; four warm water lakes and 11 surface acres.