|Northeast Region News|
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Berkshire Hatchery Foundation recently signed an agreement making the Berkshire Trout Hatchery the first and only hatchery in the National Fish Hatchery System run solely by volunteers. Northeast Regional Director Marvin Moriarty and Foundation Acting President George Emmons signed the agreement at a foundation fundraising event
The new agreement allows the nonprofit foundation to raise funds for the operation of the hatchery and its programs. The group also participates in a multi-agency federal and state-supported restoration program for the facility under the agreement.
The hatchery began supplying trout to surrounding states in 1914. Over the years staff raised rainbow and brown trout, smallmouth bass, and Atlantic salmon. After 1965, budget shortages limited its operations until, in 1994, operations ended altogether.
Under the new agreement, the Berkshire Hatchery Foundation will manage the hatchery as an environmental education center for local youth and school groups. The foundation teaches the importance of aquatic resources, provides fish for special events for youth and persons with disabilities and promotes aquaculture in local schools. The group also maintains and operates the hatchery’s seven miles of hiking trails.
The foundation's highly dedicated volunteers and university interns care for the hatchery's fish, maintain the facility, and run outreach programs within the local community.
The all-volunteer organization receives help from the University of Massachusetts Extension’s Western Massachusetts Center for Sustainable Aquaculture, which assists with technical support and security. The center uses the hatchery for educational events, outreach and research.
The hatchery volunteers also receive technical support and assistance from staff of the Northeast Region's Pittsford National Fish Hatchery, located in Vermont.
For the first time in twelve years, the hatchery has begun raising Atlantic salmon for the Connecticut River Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program. 20,000 small Atlantic salmon now growing at the hatchery will be released in 2008 as part of the restoration program.
The Berkshire Trout Hatchery is located on Hatchery Road in the village of Hartsville, New Marlboro, approximately 6 miles east of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The hatchery is open to the public daily.