Norfork National Fish Hatchery begins project to replace raceway drain lines
Norfork National Fish Hatchery, near Mountain Home, Arkansas, will begin replacing the hatchery’s drain lines to reduce erosion, but will remain open to the public during that time. The first phase of the project starts around March 18, and will take four or five months to complete
“Norfork National Fish Hatchery raises about 450,000 pounds of rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout annually which help turn the waters of Arkansas and surrounding states into a trout angler’s paradise,” says Jon Casey, hatchery manager. “Our hatchery also has a big impact on the area’s economy, generating $50 million in retail sales and 1,044 jobs with a total wage and salary income of more than $27 million.”
The Norfork National Fish Hatchery is located below Norfork Dam and reservoir, about 11 miles southeast of Mountain Home in Baxter County, Arkansas. The hatchery’s drain lines were last replaced in 1984 and are more than 30 years old. In 1993, another aerator building and another water supply line were brought online, bringing the water flow from 18,000 gallons per minute to 22,000 gallons per minute. The water flows from the drain lines into Dry Run Creek and then into the Norfork River. This increased water flow strains the old drain lines, and they leak. As a result, the soil around the lines and in places under the raceways is eroding, and some of the hatchery’s roads are caving in in some places.
The hatchery stocks trout in the reservoirs of northern Arkansas, southern Missouri, and Oklahoma, as well as the tailwaters below Norfork, Bull Shoals, and other dams.
To meet its stocking commitments during the first phase of the construction project, Norfork National Fish Hatchery partnered with the Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery in Mammoth Spring, Arkansas. Norfork National Fish Hatchery stocked 93,855 trout for the state fish hatchery during the fall and winter months. In return, the state fish hatchery will stock the same number of trout for Norfork Fish Hatchery from March through May.
Norfork National Fish Hatchery will continue to raise fish while the drain lines are being replaced, and there may be periods of overcrowding in some of the raceways as this project is being completed. When the project is complete, there will be less soil erosion in Dry Run Creek and the raceways will be easier to clean and maintain.
Opened in 1957, Norfork National Fish Hatchery is a cold-water hatchery established to raise trout for restocking areas impacted by construction of dams, primarily in the tailwaters of Norfork and Bull Shoals. Norfork National Fish Hatchery does not have any adult trout for breeding purposes. The hatchery receives fertilized eggs from federal broodstock hatcheries. When the eggs arrive at Norfork they are placed into large hatching jars. The eggs will begin to hatch in approximately two weeks after they are placed into the hatching jars. After the eggs hatch they are placed in aluminum troughs or tanks, where they will stay about three or four months until they are about two or three inches long. They are then moved to the raceways outside where they continue to grow until they are large enough to stock at 11 inches, usually at 22 months of age. Hatchery fish are raised, harvested, and stocked year-round.
Jon Casey, USFWS
Phil Kloer, USFWS
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