Iron River National Fish Hatchery…Did You Know?
BY CAREY EDWARDS, IRON RIVER NFH
homestead site. Credit: USFWS
The location of the Iron River National Fish Hatchery (NFH) was chosen on Schacte Creek because of its crystal clear, cold and unwavering flow and its proximity to western Lake Superior, which at the time was in desperate need of lake trout restoration. The hatchery began to take shape in the late 1970’s with the acquisition of approximately 800 acres from multiple landowners. Raceways and buildings were added in the early 1980’s and the hatchery was off and running with an annual production of a little over one million lake trout. Additional land was purchased to encompass and protect the headwaters, bringing the current acreage up to 1200.
Since the hatchery’s inception, the land has of course changed in appearance with buildings, hatchery residences, water intake structures and service roads. A not so well known change is the addition of a three mile trail system that can be accessed anytime of the year. There are two loops; red and blue, with trailheads located in the hatchery parking lot and on Weidenhaar Road. The trails are
springs in the middle of the woods in northern Wisconsin.
maintained all year long and can be used for just about anything done on foot, including hunting, hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
As fate would have it, Duane Simpson, a member of one of the families that contributed 360 acres to the original land mass, came to work at the Iron River NFH by way of the Experience Works Program. Duane worked at the facility for seven years performing custodial duties and carpentry work. He told stories about skiing to the bus stop as a kid, in the snow, uphill, both ways and the stories were actually real. Over the years, he shared other memories about growing up on a homestead overlooking the springs in the middle of the woods in northern Wisconsin.
This past fall, Iron River NFH held a trail dedication to honor the Simpson family during the annual open house. Members of the Simpson family were invited to attend a brief ceremony at the
Fish Hatchery. credit: USFWS
trailhead followed by a guided hike to the remnants of the Simpson homestead located on the red loop. Duane’s carpentry skills can be viewed in the way of informational kiosks located at both trailheads.
The hatchery operation itself is a great destination with opportunities to learn about the life cycle of trout, see big fish and see the Fish and Wildlife Service’s mission in action. But the hatchery setting is also an attractive destination for families and individuals who seek to enjoy a beautiful landscape. Whether you like to hunt, bird watch, pick mushrooms or cross country ski, the Iron River National Fish Hatchery has something to offer everyone. Welcome to Iron River NFH!