The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's mission is, working with others, to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. A core part of this statement is ‘working with others.” Erwin National Fish Hatchery (Erwin NFH) exemplifies this part of the mission regularly. Partnerships make it possible for Erwin NFH to expand its impact well beyond what we could accomplish alone. One of our longest partnerships remains with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). Considering that Erwin NFH began operations in 1897, that’s saying something.
Located in the Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee, Erwin NFH’s proximity to Cherokee, North Carolina provides an obvious opportunity to work together. As spawning season progresses at the hatchery, so too does the need to retire “spent” adults to make room for the upcoming year classes. Luckily, this process coincides perfectly to assist EBCI fisheries team in fulfilling their own mission; that is to provide recreational fishing opportunities on EBCI land.
Each year hundreds of spent rainbow and brook trout are transferred from the Erwin NFH to EBCI’s Tribal Hatchery for continued grow out or stocking in local waters. Because Erwin NFH is a station these fish are typically two plus years old and have and average weight around two and a half pounds each! These sizeable trout in addition to the Tribal Hatchery’s production trout make for exciting fishing opportunities.
Together, Erwin NFH and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians ensure top-notch recreational fishing opportunities for both North Carolina and Tennessee. We look forward to continuing this partnership for many years to come!