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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

March 30, 1999
Lloyd Strobeck, Project Leader 435-789-0360
Karen Miranda Gleason 303-236-7917, x 431

Jones Hole Hatchery to Stock Fish Early

Due to shrinking federal budgets, Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery 40 miles northeast of Vernal will stock a portion of this year’s fish production on or about April 15, which is several months earlier than usual. In short, they are running out of fish food.

The early stocking is due to a shortage of funds needed to feed and hold the fish until normal growth later in the season, according to Ralph Morgenweck, director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region, which runs the hatchery, along with 13 others in the Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and North Dakota.

Current plans call for the early release of fish as fish food supplies run out. The fish released early will be smaller than usual, so survival in the wild may be lower than normal.

The hatchery at Jones Hole, in operation since 1970, raises over a million and a half fish annually, providing four varieties of catchable trout -- Brooks, Browns, Cutthroats, and Rainbows -- to areas in Utah and Wyoming.

Fish scheduled for the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation in Utah and the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming will be released earlier and smaller than usual, so fishermen will have to wait two to four months for them to grow to the 9-inch catchable size. The State of Utah has offered to supply additional food for fish to be stocked in their waters, so those trout can be held until fully grown and released at the usual dates. Fish for the State of Wyoming will be held on short rations to stretch the stocking date as close as possible to the previous Memorial Day weekend schedule.

"This is not just a one-year situation," said Hatchery Manager Lloyd Strobeck. "Without additional funding, next year’s situation will be much worse." He added that this could lead to the early release of additional fish, including those stocked in public waters in Utah and Wyoming. Local areas that could be affected include Flaming Gorge, Steinaker, and Red Fleet Reservoirs.

Funding for the National Fish Hatchery System has been increasingly tight, as operations costs rise while budgets remain flat. All of the Service’s hatcheries in the region are struggling to meet salaries and expenses, though Jones Hole is the first to take the step of releasing fish early.

Last year, Jone’s Hole received over 7,000 visitors. The visitor center is open 7 days a week, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., but visitors are welcome on hatchery grounds any time to enjoy self-guiding tours or use of the picnic areas. Restrooms are available. Large groups may arrange tours in advance by contacting the hatchery at (435) 789-4481. To get to the hatchery from Verna, drive to 500 north, then travel east 40 miles on paved road. Follow signs leading to Jone’s Hole or Diamond Mountain.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprising more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies.

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