From time to time I get to visit other hatcheries, run by both national and state entities. Neosho NFH is now the oldest in the whole system – the federal system alone involves 35 states and 69 other facilities. Now we weren’t the first ever – that one was on the McCloud River in California, but is no longer in operation.

From time to time I get to visit other hatcheries, run by both national and state entities. Neosho NFH is now the oldest in the whole system – the federal system alone involves 35 states and 69 other facilities. Now we weren’t the first ever – that one was on the McCloud River in California, but is no longer in operation.

The first studies on fish reproduction started about 147 years ago in California to learn how salmon spawn and how they might be reared in captivity. This was all about feeding America, and the depleting food fish resources needed enhancement. Thus began the U.S. Fish Commission, forming the first station of the National Fish Hatchery System, and which would eventually morph into the current U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Those many years have seen various techniques developed, many stations created, many fish raised and released, and many people employed. This system helps conserve our nation’s fishery resources in many ways. For the Neosho hatchery, our main concerns regard making up for the loss of fish as a result of federal water projects (namely, the creation of the Table Rock Dam), protecting threatened and endangered fish and restoring them to their native waters (pallid sturgeon, Topeka shiners and freshwater mussels), and serving as an education, outreach and research station. Other stations in our national system also work to preserve the genes of wild and hatchery-raised fish, restoring fish populations that have declined, providing health services, and providing Native American tribes with native and recreational fisheries. In addition to fish hatcheries, the fisheries system includes Fish Health Centers, Fish Technology Centers, Fish and Wildlife Management Assistance Offices and a historical hatchery.

As you can see, we are definitely part of a much larger organization and we are clearly not out doing our own isolated thing. If you have a chance to travel and go past another federal hatchery, you will find it an interesting stop to be sure. Closest to us are Mammoth Springs NFH, Greers Ferry NFH and Norfork NFH (all in AR) and Tishomingo NFH (in OK). Like us, some use spring water, but others use streams, lakes and reservoirs. And also like Neosho, they work with recreation fish (like our rainbows), troubled aquatics (like freshwater mussels), and endangered species (like our sturgeon and shiners). Near Rapid City, SD there is also a historical hatchery that shows off our past and present in a special way.

We are always so glad when you stop in to feed our fish and walk the grounds, but we also want you to know we are a part of something much bigger. If you have the chance, I know you’ll enjoy visiting other members of our wonderful fisheries conservation team. Our hatchery is working hard to ensure a bright future for America’s fish and other aquatic species for the good of us all. As the human population grows, present and new problems will challenge us all, and we all need to solve them together.

 

 

Bruce Hallman, Environmental Education Specialist, Neosho National Fish Hatchery. He writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.