Hatchery Upgrades.

Upgrades to Hatcheries

Michigan is investing significantly in upgrading its state fish hatcheries, which play a vital role in supporting the state’s fish stocking program. With funding of $30 million from the state general fund, improvements are set to revamp facilities that have seen limited updates since the late 1970s.

The six state fish hatcheries spread across Michigan will undergo substantial upgrades over the next three years, starting this summer. These upgrades are crucial as many facilities and equipment are nearly 50 years old, highlighting the necessity for modernization.

The hatcheries are essential for breeding and rearing various fish species, including brook, lake, brown, and rainbow trout, Arctic grayling, splake, steelhead, salmon species like Chinook, Atlantic, and coho, as well as walleye and muskellunge.

The largest portion of the funding, $11 million, is allocated to Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery in Van Buren County, while Platte River State Fish Hatchery in Benzie County will receive

$6 million in upgrades at Platt River.

Marquette, Thompson, and Harrietta state fish hatcheries will each benefit from $3.5 million worth of improvements, with Oden State Fish Hatchery in Emmet County receiving $2.6 million.
The upgrade projects are categorized into three main areas: infrastructure, energy efficiency, and biosecurity. This includes essential upgrades such as roofing, paving, electrical systems, emergency generators, and HVAC systems, aimed at improving the overall efficiency and safety of the hatcheries. The work is scheduled to take place during the summers of 2024, 2025, and 2026.

Leading the project design is Hobbs + Black Architects of Lansing, collaborating with partners like McMillen Inc. of Boise, Idaho, known for their expertise in aquaculture design and construction. Construction management will be handled by Spence Brothers Construction of Traverse City for the northern facilities and Christman Constructors of Lansing for the southern facilities.

MDNR has been meeting with designers and engineers every two weeks for the past year, a year that began by discussing projects on a large scale. As an implementation strategy developed, they shifted focus to first-year projects. Those projects are now nearing final design stages, and construction contracts will likely be executed this coming summer. Meetings and strategizing will continue as construction begins and the details of the projects for the coming three years are finalized.

The myriad components of this large capital outlay work fall largely under three general categories, including deferred infrastructure needs, energy-efficiency improvements and biosecurity improvements.

Here is a closer look at what exactly will be happening over the next three summers.

Marquette State Fish Hatchery in Marquette County houses brood stock for our brook trout, lake trout and Arctic grayling programs. It is also a production facility that stocks brook trout, lake trout and splake.

The Marquette hatchery is slated to get a new roof on the hatchery building and a new energy-efficient boiler, as well as updated heating, ventilation and air conditioning controls in 2024. A new brood-isolation building will be built to replace the current crumbling structure. Leveling of settling concrete around the facility to improve accessibility will cap off the 2025 projects. Finally, in 2026, the facility will be completely repaved.

The facility is expected to receive $3.5 million for its improvements.

Thompson State Fish Hatcheryin Schoolcraft County produces steelhead and Chinook salmon for stocking in Michigan waters. Thompson is also home to a state-of-the-art cool-water facility that supports walleye and muskellunge rearing programs.

In 2017, the Thompson hatchery was expanded to include a cool-water facility and pond rearing complex as part of a capital outlay package. An updated automated fish-feeding system was also installed in the outdoor steelhead rearing complex at this time. The 2023 capital outlay package included many needed upgrades to the cold-water facility.

Thompson is slated to have a new truck storage building built in 2024 at the cool-water facility to house fish-stocking vehicles and various fish-rearing equipment used at the new facility. Resurfacing concrete in the production raceways and indoor rearing units should vastly improve fish quality and health in 2025.

Additionally, improving hatchery insulation and dehumidification as part of updating HVAC systems will improve energy-efficiency efforts. Finally in 2026, the cold-water facility will be completely repaved, and the cool-water facility will be partially paved.

The Thompson hatchery will also be provided $3.5 million for the upgrades.

Oden State Fish Hatchery in Emmet County houses brood stock for brown and rainbow trout programs. It is also a production facility for that stocks brown and rainbow trout in Michigan waters.

A couple of ongoing projects including a Parshall flume, for measuring discharge flow, and 2023 well-reclamation work were supported through this funding allocation.

Repairing and repaving the hatchery visitor center parking lot and infrastructure maintenance for the building and a historic fish railcar are taking center stage at Oden in 2024. A new domestic well for the drum screen building will improve effluent management in 2024.

In 2025, a much-needed new disinfection station will be constructed, to improve biosecurity for fish-stocking trucks coming on-site following stocking trips. The main hatchery building will get modifications to the roof and new siding that is better suited for the climate conditions of the region.

For those interested in learning more about Michigan’s fish hatcheries and weirs, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provides additional information at Michigan.gov/Hatcheries. These upgrades signify a significant investment in preserving and enhancing Michigan’s aquatic resources for future generations.

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