Ouray National Fish Hatchery
Mountain-Prairie Region
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Ouray National Fish Hatchery

Physical Address: 21000 East Wildlife Refuge Road | Randlett, Utah 84063
Mailing Address: 1350 S. 2350 West | Vernal, UT 84078
Phone: 435-828-7134 | E-mail: VernalFishandWildlife@fws.gov

About The Hatchery

Fish Culture | Public Outreach | Open / Close All

Aerial photo of the Ouray National Fish Hatchery. Credit: USFWS.

Ouray National Fish Hatchery (ONFH) Randlett Unit was established in 1996 as a fish refugia and technology development facility to assist in the recovery of razorback sucker, Colorado pikeminnow, bonytail, and humpback chub. ONFH is located on the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge 35.5 miles (57 km) southwest of Vernal, Utah,. The facility consists of a 36,000 gallon indoor recirculation hatchery with 27 eight-foot circular fiberglass tanks and 30 four-foot circular fiberglass tanks. The isolation room has been rebuilt with a separate recirculation system containing 19 three foot circular fiberglass tanks 2 which also doubles as a 19 jar egg incubation hatchery during spawning season. Water temperatures can be manipulated to run anywhere between 500F and 750F depending upon fish and/or egg needs. There are also 24 -- 0.2 acre production ponds, and 12 -- 0.5 acre broodstock ponds, most of which are covered with bird netting. The water source consists of seven shallow wells (40 feet deep) located near the Green River approximately 0.5 miles from the hatchery. The hatchery has its administrative office located in a fisheries complex building shared with the Colorado River Fisheries Project, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, and Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery in Vernal, Utah. ONFH is a proud partner of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program.


Fish Culture »

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Fish Culture

Photo of a Humpback Chub from Yampa Canyon. Credit: USFWS. The razorback sucker is a large river fish found only in the Colorado River Basin. It was listed as endangered and given full protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1991. Valued as food by early settlers and miners, wild populations were recently extremely rare, declining, and consisted primarily of adults. Poor survival of young has been attributed to loss of habitat, and predation by non-native fish. Thanks to the efforts of the San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program and the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, razorback numbers are increasing in the wild. Hatchery-produced fish are being stocked to re-establish the species in the wild and preferred habitat is being restored and provided through flow management, floodplain protection, and nonnative fish management and control actions. Razorback suckers can reach up to lengths of 36 inches and weigh up to 14 pounds!

ONFH-Randlett retains over 500 razorback sucker broodstock on station and is responsible for the stocking of 6,000 -350mm razorback sucker into the Green River each year. All razorback suckers that are released to the river are tagged with a Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT), weighed, and measured prior to release. This data is placed into a data base so that field biologists can identify where these fish came from when they are captured during various studies. ONFH also produces excess razorback sucker larvae for scientific studies, including flooded bottom-lands of the Green River that serve as nursery habitat for the species, and for larval drift studies.

In 2012, ONFH also began producing bonytail for stocking. Bonytail were listed as endangered in 1980. They bonytail is the rarest of the endangered, native fish of the Colorado River. Bonytail can grow to 22 inches or more and have been known to live up to 50 years.

Image of a Bonytail. Bonytail also are raised at the state of Colorado’s J.W. Mumma Native Aquatic Species Restoration Facility in Alamosa, ONFH-Grand Valley Unit located in Grand Junction, Colorado and the state of Utah’s Wahweap Fish Hatchery in Big Water, Utah. These bonytail are stocked in the Green and upper Colorado rivers in Colorado and Utah. Stocked fish have been recaptured in several locations and habitats within these river systems, but survival has been fairly low. To help improve stocking success, ONFH-Randlett and Grand Valley Unit have begun producing bonytail and are responsible for producing a total of 20,000 250mm fish each year.

ONFH-Randlett also has been part of an effort to take some of the endangered Desolation Canyon humpback chub into captivity to preserve adequate genetic diversity should the endangered chub see continued decline in population levels, and propagation becomes necessary to avoid extinction. Young of the year chubs are captured using seines out of backwaters and secondary channels and transferred to the hatchery. Young humpback chubs are difficult to distinguish from the non-endangered roundtail chub, so they are grown out at the hatchery until a positive identification can be made and verified through genetic testing. The roundtail chubs are then either transferred to another hatchery that is developing a broodstock, or they are returned to the river. Image of a Humpback Chub.


Public Outreach »

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Public Outreach

Photo of Larry Zeigenfuss showing Razorbacks to Union High School students. Credit: USFWS. Ouray National Fish Hatchery is open to the public; however some areas are restricted (the recirculation hatchery and the Isolation Facilities) except for guided tours. Larger groups are encouraged to call ahead for a guided tour.

Contact Information
Ouray National Fish Hatchery
21000 East Wildlife Refuge Road
Randlett, Utah 84063
435-828-7134

Mailing Address:
Ouray National Fish Hatchery
1350 S. 2350 West
Vernal, UT 84078

Email Us:
VernalFishandWildlife@fws.gov

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: April 13, 2015
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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