Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources
and Recovery Center
Southwest Region
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Male Gila trout that danced with Wiese on his lineLiving the Dream
Dances with Gila Trout

A short story by Nate Wiese, Project Leader at Mora NFH.

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The Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources & Recovery Center (formerly the Dexter National Fish Hatchery & Technology Center) is located in the heart of the Pecos River Valley in southeastern New Mexico in Dexter.

The Center is home to a fully functional Fish Culture Facility, Molecular Ecology Laboratory, and Fish Health Laboratory with state of the art equipment and field expertise.

The Center currently houses over 1 million fish from 15 different threatened and endangered fish species. The objective of the Center is to work with partners on reintroduction of species into their native habitat; improve the quality of fish reared through genetic research; maintain populations in the event of catastrophic loss in the wild.


The hatchery was established under the White Act of 1931. The hatchery opened its doors in 1932 to meet the demands of warm water game fish. The main focus of the facility was to supply local waterways with sport fish via rearing at the Center.

After the Endangered Species Act was established in 1973 the hatchery began working with endangered species in 1974. The hatchery began work with four endangered species, and currently works with 15 different species. The hatchery often also provides emergency response and housing to as many as 19 different species at any given time. In 1978 the hatchery mission was transformed from a facility that raised fish for recreational purposes to a facility that would house and protect endangered fish species.

In 1991 the hatchery evolved once again into one of only seven technology centers; performing life history studies, creating new technology and carefully analyzing fish genetics. The success of reintroduction of endangered species into the wild is accredited partly to the uniqueness of technology centers and their mission.

In 2005, the facility was once again introduced to a new venue, adding a fish health unit. The Southwestern Fish Health Unit monitors aquatic species health issues for the entire Southwest Region.

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Last updated: July 22, 2015