Living the Dream
Dances with Gila Trout
A short story by Nate Wiese, Project Leader at Mora NFH.
Inks Dam NFH is located approximately 60 miles Northwest of Austin, TX. in the beautiful Texas hill country. The facility borders the Colorado River below Inks Lake and is nestled between Inks Lake State Park and Longhorn Caverns State Park. The hatchery is reached by traveling State Highway 29 West from Burnet, TX for nine miles, and then Park Road 4 for four miles to hatchery entrance.
The facility can also be reached by traveling approximately nine miles North of Marble Falls on State Highway 281 and turning West onto Park Road 4 and following that for eleven miles to the hatchery entrance.
Inks Dam NFH has 30 ponds ranging in size from 0.25 acres to 1.5 acres with a total of 28 surface acres for fish production. The entire facility has approximately 150 acres. The fish culture infrastructure consists of a feed storage building, holding house for egg and early fish development, Isolation/ quarantine building, four 60 foot raceways, four 20 foot circulars are housed under a shade structure. The facility also has an isolation building for endangered species containing aquariums of various sizes of circular tanks.
In 1938 the Public Work Administration, established for the purpose of constructing dams along the Colorado River, proposed the construction of a federal fish hatchery to provide fish for the newly created lakes. Congressman Lyndon B. Johnson arranged an agreement between the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and the National Youth Administration (NYA) to construct the hatchery in the year 1938, with production facilities to be completed by 1940.
The original purpose of the hatchery was to supply fish for the chain of lakes created by the dams along the Colorado River; however, in the 1950s and 1960s the emphasis of the Service began to shift toward the farm pond program. At this time channel catfish and largemouth bass became the major products, and this program continued for approximately two decades. By the early 1980s the facility was again faced with programmatic changes and recreational/sport-fish stockings on federal lands, primarily Native American waters in the Southwest, became the major focus. In the mid-1990s the Fish and Wildlife Service began to emphasize native species, and accordingly the facility began work with two interjurisdictional species, Gulf Coast striped bass and paddlefish in addition to its Tribal Trust work.
The current programs consist of restoration and recovery of paddlefish, as well as providing channel catfish for tribal fishery management programs and to fulfill tribal trust responsibilities. In addition to these programs, the facility has continued its long-term cooperative agreements with Fort Hood and New Mexico Game and Fish to increase recreational fishing opportunities for warm-water fish species. The facility recently re-established a program to provide warm-water fish for stocking on National Forest Service lands in the state of Texas. Additionally, this facility maintains a refuge population of state and federally endangered Clear Creek gambusia.
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