In 2006, I had the honor and the pleasure of working as a seasonal fisheries biologist for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. I would like to share some of the exciting and wonderful things I learned about our nation's fish hatcheries, The National Fish Hatchery System, and the Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery.
Fish hatcheries serve a number of important purposes in our society, including but not limited to environmental, ecological, conservational, restorational, recreational, and economic functions.
These are YOUR hatcheries, your tax dollars at work, and... YOUR fish!
The Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery is operated by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) as part of the National Fish Hatchery System (NFHS), which consists of 70 National Fish Hatcheries, 7 Fish Technology Centers, 9 Fish Health Centers, and 64 Wildlife Management Assistance Offices, and the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery.
The Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery is located approximately 40 miles northeast of Vernal in the northeast corner of the state of Utah near the Colorado border. One of the hatchery's neighbors is Dinosaur National Monument. Backcountry Rangers from the US National Park Service patrol Jones Hole Creek. The hatchery serves as a trailhead and respite for visitors to Dinosaur National Monument as well as fishing access for anglers along Jones Hole Creek.
Hatchery staff are always pleased to guide visitors through the hatchery grounds and facilities as well as to provide water, parking, and rest facilities to our visitors, passing anglers, and weary hikers. Although overnight camping is not permitted on hatchery grounds, information about camping and river use permits for Dinosaur National Monument can be obtained at Dinosaur National Monument Visitors Center near Jenson, Utah or the US National Park Service website: http://www.nps.gov/dino.
Having driven the 40 miles of scenic, winding, mountain and canyon roads leading down into Jones Hole, one of the first questions that hatchery visitors might ask upon arriving is, "Why is the hatchery located here at such a remote and distant location?" Quite simply, the answer is water. The unique and fascinating plumbing system at the Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery is fed by the pure and natural waters of Jones Hole Springs which are the source of Jones Hole Creek and are the hatchery's main water supply.
These springs are capable of delivering up to 15,000 gallons per minute (gpm) of pure spring water to the hatchery at a constant year-round temperature of 54 degrees (54F, 12C). These conditions of water purity, volume, and temperature are ideal for rearing cold water fishes such as trout and other salmonids.
Water is collected from the numerous springs which surround the hatchery grounds by means of a system of perforated collection pipes, gravity fed collection and distribution boxes, and pumped water transmission lines. Water is directed to the tanks and raceways where fish are being reared and is recycled as needed. First-use water is directed into the hatchery buildings for egg hatching and rearing of the smallest and youngest fish in the indoor tanks; while re-use water is directed toward outside raceways and more mature fish.
Final-use water is directed toward the sedimentation ponds where suspended solids are deposited and where wastes are biologically metabolized such that water ultimately re-entering the natural environment is about as pure and clear as it was when it entered the hatchery's water system.
Ecosystem alteration due to the construction of numerous hydroelectric dams and reservoirs throughout the American West coupled with the desire of sportsmen and anglers to use and enjoy the natural environment in pursuit of fish and game as well as the greater public emphasis in recent years on the restoration and conservation of natural areas has led to the establishment of wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries to aid our Nation in the achievement of these ecological, conservational, and environmental goals.
Working cooperatively with various federal, state, and tribal agencies, Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery serves the American people and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's stated mission by providing fish for the Colorado River Storage Project (CRSP), Native American reservation waters, and many other water bodies throughout Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. Annually, the hatchery produces nearly two million trout and other salmonids weighing in at nearly 200,000 pounds.
In addition to the environmental and ecological benefits afforded by the stocking of these fish, the economic advantages of generating nearly 400,000 "angler days" per year brings $35 million per year and 376 jobs into the local economy by rainbow trout anglers from around the world angling in the Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery trout stocking regions of Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming.