Boosting Life on Land and Sea
By Chris Engle –Special to the Gaylord Herald Times July 19, 2016 | PETOSKEY NEWS.COM
Credit: Sandra L. Adair
The monolithic concrete structure is bigger than a football field and will expand the hatchery’s primary purpose of raising lake trout for stocking in the Great Lakes. It will house a series of long, skinny pools, called raceways, where the fish will swim and feed until they are about six inches long and ready to stock. The building replaces outdoor raceways that were susceptible to predation and disease and puts the hatchery’s capacity at about 3.2 million lake trout fingerlings. It will stock about 1.8 million lake trout next spring.
One quarter of that new building will house an ambitious cisco-rearing operation that Hatchery Manager Roger Gordon hopes will boost stagnant lake herring populations in the northern parts of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron starting in 2017.
Nestled between the new and existing raceway buildings is about an acre of empty hillside where hatchery staff and a small Youth Conservation Corps crew are busy building the facility’s newest garden of native plants and wildflowers.
“We’re in the midst of planting our biggest garden yet,” Gordon said Monday. “We need to have some native plants on there to control erosion.”
The need comes from the roughly one-acre sloped roof of the new raceway building which, during severe storms, dumps a torrent of rainfall onto the hillside. Much of that erosive force is halted with a strip of river rocks under the eve, but Gordon is looking to deep-rooted native plants to stabilize the hillside from washing away.
Another benefit of the new garden falls in line with the latest mission of the hatchery directed not at ailing populations of fish, but at struggling species of pollinating insects.
A combination of bacterial and viral diseases and agricultural pesticides have been blamed for hurting honeybee populations, but butterfly species like monarchs and other native insects that pollinate fruit trees and crops are seeing precipitous drops in their numbers.
“We’re losing native pollinators and we really don’t know why,” Gordon said. “Our gardens don’t do a lot to help but do give people an idea of what they can do in their own yards and that can add up to thousands of acres nationwide.”
Gardens planted on the hatchery grounds in the last couple years are currently exploding with native plants in full bloom. Stems and blossoms literally vibrate with the beating of tiny wings of bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, beetles and other insects that have taken up residence in the sprawling gardens.
“There’s one small garden here that was just a round patch of grass and weeds and home to nothing but ants,” Gordon said. “Now it’s a little oasis of life, with thousands of insects and even some rodents, snakes and toads, all in a little round garden that had been a biological desert.”
The hatchery is open to the public every day during daytime hours. It is located at 6623 Turner Road, off U.S. 131, south of Elmira. http://www.petoskeynews.com/gaylord/sports/outdoors/jordan-hatchery-boosting-life-on-land-and-sea/article_0e24b34c-cf0f-5678-9a36-cc08d668adb6.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share