Living the Dream
Dances with Gila Trout
A short story by Nate Wiese, Project Leader at Mora NFH.
The Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery is located on State Highway 7 a few miles northwest of Tishomingo, OK, on 235 acres of land next to Pennington Creek. The grounds include 50 ponds, three fish holding houses used primarily as nursery areas, four circular tanks and six large concrete raceways.
Located on tranquil Pennington Creek, which originates from the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer in southeast Oklahoma, Tishomingo NFH conserves imperiled aquatic species found in the Arkansas and Red River Basins. Captive breeding and rearing programs for the threatened Arkansas River shiner, alligator gar, and alligator snapping turtle reveal vital information for protecting and managing these species.
Conservation easements to 4,000 acres past the northern boundary of the Hatchery comprise most of the watershed for Pennington Creek and assure the unsullied condition of water flowing in the creek that is used by the Hatchery.
The hatchery was established in 1928 on land acquired through Indian heirs. Included in the land acquisition was the water right to divert 10 cubic feet per second from Pennington Creek for fish culture. This water right is one of the oldest water rights in the state. Construction was complete with the hatchery in full production by 1931.
The hatchery was originally established at its present site because of the high quality of Pennington Creek water and close proximity to a railroad. The hatchery was site to a grist mill and tourist park during those early days. Today the same water wheel that turned that grist mill is maintained by the Hatchery, and turns for the visiting public to view.
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