The only fish hatchery on the Chetco River may be closed a year from now because of budget cuts at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The president of The South Coast Fishermen, Dick Sutter, said at the Wednesday night meeting of the group, Its going to devastate the fishing industry in this area.

Hopefully, he said, Its a scare tactic from the politicians.

Clayton Barber, of fish and wildlife, said fees were increased for steelhead/halibut tags and general licenses for two years. He said fish and wildlife based its budget on that.

He said unless the fees are renewed by the legislature by July 2001 the budget will go down, producing cuts throughout the state.

In Curry County, said Barber, one position will be eliminated at the Elk River hatchery, and all positions at the Chetco hatchery, which produces fall chinook salmon and winter steelhead.

Barber said he would have more information for the next meeting. Meanwhile, he suggested asking Rep. Ken Messerle for help.

In another fishing issue, a public hearing on restricting motorboats on the Winchuck, Pistol, Elk and Sixes rivers, along with Floras Creek, will be at 7 p.m. Thursday in the blue room in the basement of the courthouse annex in Gold Beach.

Barber said restricting motors is a social issue, not a biological issue with fish and wildlife.

Drift boats would not be affected by the proposed regulations.

Fisherman Jim Welter said Curry County will also not be affected by new restrictions from the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect endangered salmon in much of the state.

Welter said Curry County has been living under those restrictions since South Coast coho salmon were listed under the Endangered Species Act two years ago.