It's a gem, well worth operating. Don't know much about its need as a hatchery. I see from SD Game, Fish and Parks data that fishing license numbers over the past twenty years have declined significantly, hitting a peak of around 100,000 in the late '90s to a more current 75,000 in '11. Does that mean D.C. Booth is redundant, considering the demand for stocked fish has declined? I'd love to get an informed opinion from a fisheries expert on the subject.
On another level, its economic impact as an attraction, I see that in a joint letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Spearfish Mayor Dana Boke and U.S. Senator Tim Johnson urged continued funding for the Booth Hatchery not because of its need as a hatchery but because of its value to the Spearfish economy. They successfully argued to officials at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the 150,000 annual visitors to the hatchery add $2.1 million to the Spearfish economy, a number worth considering in the context of Spearfish's 2012 (per the SD Department of Revenue) taxable sales report, which comes in at $374 million. 2 million bucks is 2 million bucks, of course, but in the bigger picture it's definitely something to sneeze at. I'll set aside the Kleenex for now, but you get the idea.
My own take goes to a third level. What's with expecting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to subsidize a local tourist attraction? Given the Booth Hatchery's drop-in-the-bucket status as an adornment to Spearfish's economy, I'd think it would be a realistic task to get local investors to step in and find ways to fund it from inside the pockets of those who benefit economically from the facility. Seems to me that the federal government could find other, more pressing, needs to fill with our money, particularly at a local level. Head Start programs that recently got cut might be a great place to start. I can only imagine the size of the laundry list of other, much worthier programs. Looks to me like our political class could rewrite Izaak Walton's classic and re-title it "The Compleat Finagler."