Barbs and Backlashes

Yoda by whitetips
June 30, 2010, 3:59 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: , ,

I work with a great bunch of people here in the main Fisheries office at our Game & Parks headquarters in Lincoln.  Without exception we love what we do because we have a passion for what we do; we genuinely care about Nebraska’s fisheries resources, it is our life, it is our lifestyle.  That being said, I have to tell you that I had mixed feelings coming to work today because one of our Fisheries personnel is retiring and today is his last day of work.

You may be bored reading this, but this is my blog and I could think of no better way to wish Larry the best as he moves on.  In doing so I hope you get an idea of some of the great personnel we have taking care of our state’s fisheries resources, your fisheries resources.

Let me tell you a little bit about Larry Hutchinson.  Most of the time we call him “Hutch”, but at times we have called him “Yoda”.  Now you might think that it is derogatory to refer to someone as a green, aged, short, extra-terrestrial creature from Star Wars, but let me explain.  Hutch has been our Jedi master.  His experience and wisdom has been a huge asset to our Fisheries Division and is something that many of us younger biologists hope to emulate in some small way in our careers.

Yoda, appropriately sitting next to a stream!

Hutch has worked for the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission for 45 years!  I am going to repeat that, yes, I said 45 years!  Now you know why we value his wisdom and experience so much.  In those years of experience Hutch has worked in a lot of different regions in the state and has worked on a variety of fisheries projects, more than I will chronicle here.  In recent years he has been our lead for instream flow applications.  Let me tell you a little bit about instream flow rights to give you a better idea of Hutch’s value.  I will never claim to be any kind of expert in Nebraska water law, but I can tell you that fish and wildlife and outdoor recreation are at the back of the line when it comes to water appropriations.  Water for fish & wildlife and outdoor recreation for the most part is not even considered a legitimate use of water in Nebraska.  A few years ago that changed somewhat when the Nebraska legislature changed our water law and allowed certain amounts of water to be designated for instream flows, flows reserved for fish and wildlife and outdoor recreation (assuming that there is water left to be reserved).  Afterall, rivers and streams are not rivers and streams if they do not have water in them.  Nebraska’s Natural Resource Districts and the Game & Parks Commission can apply for those instream flow rights.  Now there have been lots of folks that have worked on instream flow applications and they all deserve credit, but Hutch has been our lead in instream flow applications that were submitted and granted for Long Pine Creek and the Platte River.  Currently Hutch has been our lead for the ongoing application process for the Niobrara River.  You can imagine the political minefield involved in those instream flow applications and our “Yoda” has successfully navigated through them!  Hutch has been recognized nationally for his work on instream flow applications here in Nebraska.

One other thing I have learned from Hutch has been something called the public trust doctrine.  I will not bore you with all the details about that, I believe I have an entire text on the subject that I got from Hutch, but it establishes how our natural resources are valued and managed.  In short our fish & wildlife resources belong to the people!  In the “Old World” the fish & wildlife belong to kings, lords, dukes, princes, royalty or the “state”.  The model here in America has been one where the natural resources belong to the people, the public; the fish, the wildlife are ours, yours, mine!  The “state” or government has been entrusted with the stewardship of those public resources.  All of our fish and wildlife management in America is based on this doctrine and this model, and it is the best fish & wildlife management model in the world.

Anywho, I will quit rambling.  I just wanted to give you an idea of how much my career and I personally have benefited by getting to work in the same office as Larry Hutchinson.  I know Larry will be busy in his retirement; he has a lot of family waiting to spend time with him, I know he will continue to be involved in fish & wildlife conservation, and I know he loves to fly-fish.  I am sure we will see him around the office from time to time, but in between those times we will miss his dry wit, sly smile, knowledge and wisdom.

It has been an honor to work with you, Hutch.  Enjoy your retirement, but don’t be a stranger.  May the fish always rise to your flies!

A Long Pine brown trout thankful for "Yoda's" dedication to the resource!


1 Comment so far
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Nice touch, Daryl. Class-act.

Comment by Bob Cody

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