BY NATHAN ECKERT, GENOA NFH
The second Freshwater Mussel Propagation for Restoration Course was held in September at the Bozeman Fish Technology Center in Bozeman, Montana. The course is offered by the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, but can be held at remote locations. Twenty-four students from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, multiple state conservation agencies and private industry attended the course to learn freshwater mussel propagation and culture from Service mussel propagation biologists. The course was designed to complement the Conservation Biology of Freshwater Mussels introductory course offered at NCTC. The course aimed to take students through all phases of freshwater mussel propagation and culture; starting with answering the question, “why propagate freshwater mussels?” Lectures then focused specifically on animal collection, propagation, culture, release and ultimately monitoring. Lab activities centered on mussel identification, host fish inoculation, juvenile mussel recovery and mussel culture systems. One field trip was held at a nearby river where students were able to practice collecting freshwater mussels and determine whether the individuals were gravid or not. Techniques for population monitoring were demonstrated during the field trip as well. Back in class, the students were given a scenario with target species and goals to plan restoration activities. The student groups presented their plans to accomplish restoration goals on the final day of the course and received feedback from the instructors. Course instructors Matthew Patterson, Nathan Eckert, Tony Brady, Rachel Mair and Jess Jones felt the course went well. The students were enthusiastic and passionate about the material. If you are interested in attending the next offering of Freshwater Mussel Propagation for Restoration watch the NCTC course catalogue, the plan is for the course to be held at NCTC in September of 2016.
BY CAREY EDWARDS, IRON RIVER NFH
The Iron River National Fish Hatchery (NFH) hosted its 13th annual open house this fall. The main focus of the event is to provide a safe and fun environment where children (and adults) can learn about fish, fisheries management, the sport of fishing and the great outdoors. In today’s technological society, many children have not been exposed to fishing, hunting or even hiking in the woods. The future of our resource lies in the hands of these same children so it is imperative to reach and teach at an early age. Lucky for us, we have some great partners that feel the same way. So let the fun begin…
This year’s open house landed on another bluebird day that brought in over 120 guests. The experience had a carnival feel to it in which young and young at heart could participate in events throughout the hatchery. The Wild Rivers Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU) donated materials for event goers to tie their own fly and members showed off their expertise with hands-on fly casting demonstrations. Visitors were able to fish for the wily lawn bass and a prize (donated by the Friends of the Iron River National Fish Hatchery) was given to each child successfully landing their catch. Hatchery tours, Gyotaku (Japanese fish printing), minnow races and a youth archery range were also available for guests to try their hand at. The Brule River Sportsman’s Club rounded out the day with a free cook out lunch for hungry visitors.
Partnerships are the cornerstone to any successful operation and the Iron River National Fish Hatchery is no exception. Thanks to these collaborations, the hatchery was able to host a fun and positive event and possibly helped shape the future stewards of our great resource. Stay tuned to see what new events are happening at the hatchery this year.