Living the Dream
Dances with Gila Trout
A short story by Nate Wiese, Project Leader at Mora NFH.
The Alchesay-Williams Creek National Fish Hatchery Complex consists of two hatcheries located nearly 25 miles apart on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in the White Mountains of east-central Arizona. Visitors are always welcome at the hatcheries which have picnic areas at both facilities. Williams Creek also features a Nature Trail with benches and interpretive signs along the trail. Stop by our Visitors page for more information on tours of the facilities.
Alchesay NFH is located in the picturesque canyon of the North Fork of the White River on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation at an elevation of 5,400 feet above sea level. Williams Creek NFH is located in the beautiful White Mountains on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation at an elevation of 7,000 feet above sea level.
All fish cultured at the two hatcheries are stocked only into Tribal waters across Arizona and New Mexico as a Tribal Trust responsibility of the Fish & Wildlife Service to the sovereign Native American Nations.
The Williams Creek hatchery was authorized in 1934 with a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The hatchery was built in 1939 with the BIA furnishing all necessary funds for labor, material and construction, while USFWS provided planning, design, and technical supervision during construction. Initial construction began in April of 1939 with labor obtained through the Civilian Conservation Corp program.
In June of 1941, the hatchery began operation with 100,000 eyed rainbow trout eggs received from Eagle Nest, NM and 250,000 “blackspotted” trout eggs received from Yellowstone Park, WY. Culture of Apache trout was also unsuccessfully attempted during the first year of operations.
The Alchesay hatchery was authorized in 1959 as trout distribution expanded to other reservations. The hatchery is named after the famous Apache chief, Alchesay. Initial production of rainbow, brook, and brown trout at this facility began in 1963. Alchesay NFH was designed to fulfill a federal responsibility for stocking waters on Indian lands throughout eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.
In 1972 operations at Williams Creek and Alchesay NFH were combined to form the current two-unit Alchesay-Williams Creek NFH Complex. In 1983 research efforts began in an attempt to develop cultural requirements for the threatened Apache Trout. By 1986 the Apache trout were successfully spawned resulting in 6,000 eggs.
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