Hotchkiss National Fish Hatchery is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Fish Hatchery System. The National Fish Hatchery System (NFHS) is comprised of 70 Fish Hatcheries, 7 Fish Technology Centers, and 9 Fish Health Centers nationwide. The NFHS has a unique responsibility in helping restore native aquatic populations, mitigate for fisheries lost as a result of federal water projects, provide fish to benefit Tribes and the National Wildlife Refuges, and to recover species listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Hotchkiss NFH is located about 20 miles east of Delta, CO near the town of Hotchkiss and was established in 1967 as part of the Colorado River Storage Project Act. Located on 58 acres along the banks of the North Fork of the Gunnison River, the hatchery's cold, clean water supply comes from the adjacent Tommy Dowell Spring. Hotchkiss NFH facilities include 24 inside nursery tanks, 40 concrete raceways, and 2 earthen ponds use for effluent treatment and sedimentation.
Tommy Dowell Spring was created in the 1930's by an earthquake near Salt Lake City, whose tremors also affected the Hotchkiss area. The spring has a constant water temperature of 56 degrees Fahrenheit and flows from 2,200 to 5,000 gallons per minute, providing the ideal conditions for trout production.
As the aquatic habitat changes due to natural (drought, flood, habitat destruction) or human influences (over-harvest, pollution, habitat loss due to development and dam construction), the reproduction of fish in wild declines. Stocking of fish is one of the many management strategies used by biologist to help replenish the populations for years to come.
Last updated: March 1, 2012