A Unique Partnership:
Pendills Creek/Sullivan Creek National Fish Hatchery Complex and the Hiawatha National Forest
BY CURT FRIEZ, PENDILLS CREEK/ SULLIVAN CREEK NFH
Both Pendills Creek National Fish Hatchery and Sullivan Creek National Fish Hatchery (formally Hiawatha National Fish Hatchery) are located in the eastern end of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The facilities are located about eleven miles apart from each other as a crow flies. The Pendills Creek National Fish Hatchery lies to the north of Sullivan Creek NFH on the shores of Lake Superior and continues to be heavily involved with lake trout production (production fish) for lake trout restoration efforts in the Great Lakes since establishment in 1951. Here part of the hatchery infrastructure; spill dams, water intake structures and pipelines are located on Hiawatha National Forest property. The hatchery itself is located on eighty three acres owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The current partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) takes this into account and ensures cooperation and joint management of shared interests regarding hatchery infrastructure.
The Sullivan Creek National Fish Hatchery was originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps back in the 1930s and was utilized by the U.S. Forest Service as a fish rearing station until World War II. Since that time the Sullivan Creek NFH has been utilized by the USFWS and became a substation of Pendills Creek NFH in 1959. Lake trout restoration efforts are coordinated by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (est. 1955) with key support from the USFWS and other federal, provincial, state and tribal trust resource agencies. One major mission of the Midwest Region National Fish Hatchery System is to restore, manage and maintain lake trout populations in the Great Lakes. The Sullivan Creek National Fish Hatchery plays critical role in lake trout restoration since it houses the largest number of native wild strain lake trout broodstock in the U.S. It is out of these captive broodstock that millions of lake trout eggs are spawned, incubated and then shipped to production facilities around the Great Lakes region annually.
However, the USFWS owns only the infrastructure located at the facility and not the property itself. The Hiawatha National Forest owns the property (land) the facility sits on and all the surrounding property too. The National Forest has determined that the hatchery be given a designated seven acre “administrative site” in which the USFWS may operate as it deems necessary. However, since the U.S. Forest Service does own the property they request any changes in infrastructure or enhancements to infrastructure be reviewed and approved by them. This necessitated the need for a MOU between the two Agencies that would specify certain areas of understanding, rules of operation and ensure cooperation and joint management of shared interest well into the future for such a valuable program. This MOU is now extended well into the future until 2023 and requires both Agencies to meet at least annually and discuss proposed activities from either Agency. So far the MOU has been working out very well for both Agencies with communication and understanding being at an all-time high.
The USFWS Sullivan Creek NFH is proposing new infrastructure enhancements to the facility with construction of a new fish waste sludge tank to be added onto the effluent treatment system. The Forest Service has tentatively approved this new structure and will handle the disposition of timber to be removed from the construction site. Amazingly the MOU works to keep both Agencies informed and allows for strong cooperation and understanding. The ability to work with the Forest Service in a structured manner certainly has enhanced this relationship and allowed the USFWS Sullivan Creek NFH to move ahead with facility enhancements beneficial to the USFWS program.