Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Utah Fish Hatchery Reconstruction Underway

Salt Lake City — Construction on the new Loa Fish Hatchery is underway, and an event was held last Thursday to allow local residents, legislators, county commissioners, angling organizations and other groups to learn more about the project and construction timelines.

During the 2023 legislative session, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources received the necessary funding to rebuild the Loa Fish Hatchery. The hatchery closed in November 2014 after it was infested by the New Zealand mudsnail, an invasive species. The hatchery was originally built in 1936, and due to the age of the raceways and deterioration of the facility, removing the snails wasn't effective. The hatchery had to be closed to prevent the spread of the snails through fish stocking.

Over 1.1 million pounds of fish are raised and stocked in Utah annually, and the Loa Fish Hatchery historically had the capacity to produce roughly 180,000 pounds of fish each year — the most trout of any of the state's 13 fish hatcheries. Its closure decreased fish production and stocking throughout Utah and put a strain on the other remaining hatcheries.

"The reconstruction of the Loa Fish Hatchery will help provide the additional fish-rearing space needed to redistribute production, improve hatchery fish-rearing conditions and meet the annual angling demands for healthy, stockable fish," DWR Fish Culture Coordinator Roger Mellethin said. "This rebuild on the same site will allow us to take advantage of the area's remarkable local springs and build a cost-effective, secure hatchery that uses the newest technologies to produce 350,000 pounds of fish annually — almost double what it could produce previously — while returning clean water to the nearby Fremont River."
Rendered site plan of the rebuilt Loa Fish Hatchery, showing the new raceway building, hatchery and other facilities

The reopening of the Loa Fish Hatchery will also benefit the economy. The first phase of the hatchery construction is being performed by a local Wayne County contractor, and the hatchery will provide up to six full-time jobs. These positions — which will pay around $47,000 annually — will bring an estimated $238,000 into the local economy each year.

Fishing generates over $1 billion of revenue each year for Utah's economy and the local fishing industry creates 8,000 jobs across the state.

"In 2023, the sale of fishing licenses generated $11.5 million in revenue," Utah Department of Natural Resources Deputy Director Todd Adams said. "The majority of that funding goes back into aquatic projects and research to benefit fisheries in the state. We're so thankful that the Utah legislature helped fund this project, which will help raise almost one-third of the state’s stockable fish for residents and others to enjoy."

Construction on the new Loa Fish Hatchery began on March 26 and is expected to be completed in 2027, with the startup and final testing taking place in 2028 before fish are brought into the facility. When completed, the hatchery will primarily raise rainbow and cutthroat trout to be stocked around the state.

"It's been said that a bad day fishing is still better than a good day at the office, and we feel that this hatchery will provide even more opportunities for Utahns to enjoy the outdoors with their families," DWR Director J Shirley said. "We are so excited for this new facility and all that it will mean for fishing and outdoor recreation in Utah."