Brule fish hatchery next to closeWisconsin’s state fish hatchery system is in the process of downsizing. Three hatcheries have already closed in the past six years and the Brule River facility looks to be next.
By: By Mike Simonson/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Wisconsin’s state fish hatchery system is in the process of downsizing. Three hatcheries have already closed in the past six years and the Brule River facility looks to be next.
The Brule River Fish Hatchery was built in 1927 on the Little Brule River that feeds into Lake Superior. It produced 200,000 brook trout in 1928. Last year, it raised about twice that number in Coho salmon and brown trout, most bound for Lake Michigan with 100,000 for Lake Superior. It may only employ two people, but State Representative Nick Milroy says it’s important for the area.
“It is a big deal for Brule,” Milroy said. “Brule is a small, tight-knit community. A lot of people are dependent on the tourism industry.”
Milroy says the hatchery and the Brule River, known as one of the best trout streams in the country and fished by several presidents, draws visitors from around the country.
“We want to make sure that if anything were to happen to the steelhead population that we would have the infrastructure in place to help rehabilitate that stock and that’s what that hatchery has done in the past when the stock has collapsed and we’d like to have it there for the future,” he said
But budget realities have idled three of the state’s 14 hatcheries and four others are operating below capacity. DNR District Director John Gozdzialski says Brule is old, small, needs repairs and is susceptible to the deadly fish virus VHS because it is connected to Lake Superior.
“It’s tied to the budget,” Gozdzialski says. “It’s tied to investment or need to upgrade it to make it compliant. So, it’s a combination of things.”
Although Brule has been given a one-year reprieve, state Fisheries Management Director Mike Staggs says it is next on the list to be closed. He says the whole system is being evaluated, and more cuts will have to be made.
Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard locally on 91.3 KUWS-FM and online at www.wpr.org.