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Mixsawbah State Fish Hatchery renewal
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Hatchery repair will ensure long-term strength of trout and salmon program

The Department of Natural Resources will begin rehabilitating Mixsawbah
State Fish Hatchery near Walkerton in fall 2005. Mixsawbah SFH is one of two
state hatcheries producing Chinook and coho salmon, along with two strains
of steelhead trout, for stocking into Lake Michigan and Lake Michigan
tributaries.

"The DNR is committed to finding innovative ways to fund long-needed
repairs," said DNR Director Kyle Hupfer. We recently went after and received
$500,000 in state General Fund money that will be used as leverage to pull
in more than a million additional federal dollars for fish hatchery repairs.
It is of vital importance to maintain a system capable of supplying Hoosiers
an abundance of sport fish."

DNR will begin hatchery reinvestment at Mixsawbah SFH. A recent DNR Hatchery
Facility Needs Assessment identified Mixsawbah's piping problems as the
number-one infrastructure concern in the state's hatchery system.

Hatchery manager Tom Schwartz says repairs will shut down the hatchery for
about a year. "When Mixsawbah was constructed 30 years ago, welded steel
piping was used for the hatchery's water supply system," said Schwartz.
"Much of the steel piping has corroded. It's just a matter of time before a
serious failure occurs. Temporary repairs have kept production going so far.

"Controlling the shutdown minimizes the impact to trout and salmon anglers
and avoids catastrophic production losses that would occur if the water
supply failed while fish were in the hatchery,"

Schwartz also says next year might be as good a time as any to stock fewer
fish due to growing concerns about a dip in the Lake Michigan forage fish
community.

DNR plans to minimize the loss of fish production at the hatchery by
releasing more but younger trout from Bodine State Fish Hatchery in
Mishawaka. Bodine SFH is Indiana's second Lake Michigan trout and salmon
hatchery. DNR is also negotiating fish trades with neighboring states to
help minimize production losses.

State fisheries biologists predict a 60 percent reduction in coho salmon
stocked into Indiana tributaries of Lake Michigan during 2006. Lake Michigan
anglers will notice these coho stocking adjustment effects in spring 2008.
The adjustments should impact coho tributary fishing during 2008 and 2009.

Chinook salmon stocking impacts are expected to be minimal due to planned
fish trades, a long-standing fish stocking practice in which states assist
one another when fish shortages or surpluses occur.

The hatchery shutdown will also temporarily stop spring stocking of Skamania
steelhead trout in 2006 and 2007. Spring-stocked Mixsawbah Skamania
steelhead take 14 months to raise.

The DNR will offset Mixsawbah's steelhead by stocking younger steelhead
raised at Bodine SFH. Bodine SFH will raise Mixsawbah SFH's 180,000 Skamania
steelhead to a size of 4-or-more inches and stock them in September. Any
impact to the Lake Michigan stream Skamania fishery will occur during the
third summer following stocking of smaller Skamania trout.

Bodine SFH will also raise Mixsawbah's 120,000 winter-run trout assignment
to a size of 2.5-or-more inches and stock in September.

Indiana's Lake Michigan brown trout stocking will not be affected by the
shutdown. Indiana trades fish with Illinois to obtain brown trout.

"Our reinvestment in Mixsawbah far outweighs the short-term impacts to the
fishery that anglers may see," said Lake Michigan Fisheries Biologist Brian
Breidert. "Fortunately, the trout and salmon adult fish harvest is made up
of fish between 2 and 5 years old, resulting in generation overlaps during
spawning migrations. Careful planning will allow Mixsawbah hatchery to be up
and running in time to receive salmon eggs in the fall of 2006."

More Lake Michigan fishing information:
http://www.IN.gov/dnr/fishwild/fish/lkmich/open.html
 
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