- Associated Press - Monday, June 5, 2017

WHITE SULFUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (AP) - Nearly a year after the June 2016 flood in West Virginia, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hatchery is set to reopen.

The White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery expects the completion of the bulk of reconstruction by the end of this month, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported (https://bit.ly/2sv9arA ). Lead fish biologist Tyler Hern said that the facility will meet its trout-egg obligations by next year.

“We won’t be completely back to normal until 2019, but we’re getting there,” Hern said.

The facility’s mission of providing 9 million trout eggs to federal water project sites each year, as well as propagate crawfish and mussels. In addition to destroying the physical infrastructure, flooded Wade Creek waters wiped out most of the 45,000 trout, contaminating the survivors.

The flood ripped metal siding off the 100-yard-long raceway building and irreparably damaged all 11 of its garage-style rolling doors, and left raceways filled with debris, sediment and mud. The groundwork for two new mussel-propagation ponds was destroyed, and nearly all insulation and drywall had to be replaced. Damage to the 117-year-old facility was estimated at $1.7 million to $1.8 million.

“It was discouraging to see the damage,” Hern said. “The first thing that went through our minds was, ‘Where in the heck do we start?’”

They started with removing the dead trout from the facility grounds, and moving the remaining 2,000 fish to nearby streams, as they couldn’t be used for egg production at the disease-free facility. USFWS fire-crew trainees helped clean out the raceways, while a specialist contractor treated buildings for mold and replaced the insulation and drywall.

The expected completion of the brood stock building at the end of June leaves only the replacement of a recreational walking trail on the rebuilding to-do list.

The hatchery has already started rebuilding its stock.

“We received our first batch of eggs in September, from the Erwin National Hatchery, in Tennessee,” Hern said. Another batch arrived from a facility in Montana in January.


Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.

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