A Rich History
Damage from Hurricane Irene
The White River National Fish Hatchery is back in business after being closed for five years due to extensive storm damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. Much of the hatchery's infrastructure, including fish pools and raceways, was underwater and buried in feet of mud and silt after the storm, resulting from rising floodwaters from the White River. Now that the repairs have been completed and water is once again flowing through the indoor tanks, incubators, and outdoor raceways, the staff is prepared to embark on a new mission of supporting landlocked Atlantic salmon and lake trout fisheries.
A New Future
After the White River hatchery was decommissioned for repairs, the Service made a decision in 2012 to stop culturing Atlantic salmon for restoration efforts in the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers. That decision shifted the purpose of the White River National Fish Hatchery, which is now focusing on the restoration of native salmon and trout populations to Lake Champlain, as well as lakes Erie and Ontario.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fish biologists are currently culturing land-locked Atlantic salmon eggs from Lake Champlain at the hatchery to establish a population of adult broodstock that will produce fish for stocking and restoring salmon in Lake Champlain tributaries. The salmon will be stocked in rivers and streams on the New York side of the lake to complement stocking efforts by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department in Vermont tributaries. Some of the eggs will be used for several research projects to understand factors that may limit the survival of salmon. The hatchery also just began rearing lake trout broodstock for restoration and stocking efforts in lakes Erie and Ontario.
The hatchery’s new purposes support collaborative fisheries restoration efforts with the states of Vermont and New York and the province of Quebec through the Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative, as well as numerous conservation organizations. These efforts to culture and stock fish will help restore healthy fisheries in the Champlain Basin, complementing other activities undertaken by the Service and partners including restoration of fish passage in tributaries, restoring wetland, riparian and in-stream habitats, controlling parasitic sea lamprey, and monitoring fish in the lake, rivers and streams.
The hatchery is open to the public on a limited basis. An event to celebrate the opening is being planned for spring 2017.
Henry Bouchard, Hatchery Manager