Ouray National Fish Hatchery
Mountain-Prairie Region


Ouray National Fish Hatchery (ONFH) was established in 1996 as a fish refugia and technology development facility to assist in the recovery of razorback sucker, Colorado Pikeminnow, Boneytail, and humpback chub.  ONFH is located 57 kilometers (km) southwest of Vernal, Utah, on the Ouray national Wildlife Refuge.  The facility consists of a 34,000 gallon indoor recirculation hatchery with 27 eight foot circular fiberglass tanks and 30 four circular fiberglass tanks. The isolation room has been rebuilt with a separate recirculation system containing twelve three foot circular fiberglass tanks.  Water temperatures can be manipulated to run anywhere between 50 degrees F and 75 degrees F depending upon fish needs.  There are also 24 0.2 acre production ponds, and 12 0.5 acre broodstock ponds, most 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 Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program.

Arial photo of Ouray National Fish Hatchery

MIke Montagne showing a child an adult Razorback


Fish Culture

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 are now extremely rare, declining, and consist primarily of adults.  Poor survival of young has been attributed to loss of habitat, and predation by non-native fish.  Individuals may reach lengths of 36 inches, 14 pounds  
ONFH retains over 500 razorback sucker broodstock on station and is responsible for the stocking of 15,000 -300mm 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.

A Humpback Chub from Yampa Canyon


ONFH has been part of an effort to take some of the endangered Yampa 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 in Dinosaur National Park.

Larry Zeigenfuss showing Razorbacks to Union High School students

Public Outreach

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

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

Email Us: VernalFishandWildlife@fws.gov


Last updated: March 15, 2011