About Pendills Creek NFH
BY CRYSTAL LEGAULT ANDERSON, PENDILLS CREEK NFH
Pendills Creek National Fish Hatchery (NFH), located near Brimley, Michigan is one of the Midwest Region’s oldest working lake trout hatcheries. Service staff raised and released their very first lake trout into Lake Superior in 1952. With lake trout restoration goals met in Lake Superior in 1996, Pendills Creek NFH has continued to stock fall fingerling and yearling lake trout into Lakes Michigan and Huron. The hatchery’s current lake trout goals are to stock 100,000 fall fingerling and 1,000,000 yearling lake trout into Lake Michigan each year.
Pendills Creek is a sister-station of the Sullivan Creek NFH located 30 miles west of Sault Sainte Marie, in the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan, bordering the Hiawatha National Forest.
Over the past 60 years or so, the Pendills Creek facility has seen many construction projects and aquaculture improvements. Major construction of Pendills Creek NFH began in 1951 with the intake dam and first set of raceways. An intake further upstream on Videan Creek, including a bypass canal for Pendills Creek, was built in 1954. More raceways were added in 1958. All raceways were replaced between 2008 and 2009. A hatchery building was constructed in 1961, destroyed by fire in 1975, reconstructed in 1978, and the exterior renovated in 2013. Effluent treatment facilities were constructed in 1984, with plans for complete overhaul in the near future.
The first outdoor raceways were open and exposed, which allowed unlimited predation by a variety of birds and predators. In response, a very beneficial series of construction projects was undertaken to protect fish in the outdoor raceways. Initially the raceways were covered with Weather ports. These provided protection from the sun, but not from most predators; and were found to be unsuitable for the winter snow conditions in Michigan’s UP, with total collapse of more than one occurring in the 1990s. Next metal Quonset hut type structures were set over the raceways; which were much sturdier, but still were not predator proof. Finally, in 2010, the raceways were encased in a clear-span steel building, which can handle the snow load, provides protection from the sun and has reduced the predation numbers to nearly zero.
The list of additional aquaculture improvements includes a bulk liquid oxygen tank and filtration building with one set of low head oxygenators and drum filtration for the incoming creek water supply in 2006; with a second set of oxygenators and drum filters installed along with ultra violet sterilization in 2013. A traveling screen which resides in its own building was added in 2010 to remove course debris from the creek water prior to entering the filtration building.
Pendills Creek NFH has been through numerous facility improvements over the years, and is ready to continue to support the Great Lakes lake trout rehabilitation program far into the future.