New East Texas Fish Hatchery Construction Underway
The state-of-the-art facility on 200 acres just below Sam Rayburn Reservoir will replace the 70-year-old Jasper Fish Hatchery and provide at least 45 acres of fish production ponds capable of delivering up to 4.5 million fish annually for stocking in Texas public waters.
A groundbreaking ceremony near the site of the fish hatchery water intake structure was held on Wed., Aug. 27.
“Once operational, this new hatchery will have the capacity to more than double what’s currently produced at the outdated Jasper Fish Hatchery. This will help meet the growing needs of our recreational angling community,” said Phil Durocher, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department inland fisheries director. “We applaud the generous support of Texas anglers, who stepped up to the plate to help fund this critical project through the purchase of the Freshwater Fishing Stamp, and our partners.”
In addition to stamp revenues, Jasper County in 2004 donated 200 acres of land for the hatchery and the Lower Neches Valley Authority has agreed to provide 10,000-acre feet of water from Sam Rayburn Reservoir for hatchery operation.
Also, Temple Inland provided easements to accommodate the county road as well as all site utilities and water conveyance lines. The U.S. Corps of Engineers will provide easements to accommodate the facility water intake station.
“Texas freshwater anglers are the largest single constituency Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has,” noted TPW Commission Chairman Peter M. Holt. “More fish in more places equals better fishing, and that benefits the quality of life in this state.”
HDR FishPro handled the design and programming contract for the East Texas Fish Hatchery and ALLCO, Inc. of Beaumont has been awarded the construction contract.
In addition to the production ponds, the hatchery complex will feature a 34,000-square-foot production building and an 8,200-square-foot administrative building, which will office 24 TPWD employees, including hatchery, aquatic habitat enhancement and fisheries management staffs, and game wardens.
Hatcheries comprise an important component of freshwater fisheries management at TPWD. Hatchery-reared fish are used to establish new populations, enhance existing populations, support research efforts, and maintain fisheries in small urban reservoirs where natural production will not meet anglers’ needs.
“This hatchery will add a greater degree of operational flexibility and increased production by about two million fingerlings a year,” said Todd Engeling, TPWD hatcheries director. “This hatchery will be used primarily for production of largemouth bass, channel and blue catfish and bluegill sunfish. It will also have the capability of producing striped bass should we need it.”