Regional Director Stephen Guertin Announces the Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery Pond Liner Project

No Gravatar

Stocking walleye in a lined pond at Garrison Dam NFHRiverdale, ND – Today Mountain-Prairie Regional Director Stephen Guertin announced that Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery in North Dakota will receive more than $920,000 in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The funding will support recreational fishing opportunities in the Midwest by investing in pond liners at the hatchery.  Garrison Dam NFH is the Fish and Wildlife Service’s largest walleye production hatchery responsible for providing walleye to anglers in many western states, including North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho and Nevada.  

“Using the funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to improve our national fish hatcheries, the Service is making an investment in conserving America’s timeless treasures and icons of our culture and heritage, while rebuilding our economy and protecting our environment for future generations,” said Regional Director Guertin.

The hatchery’s earthen ponds have degraded over many years of fish production and are in need of a major overhaul to make them effective.  Nearly half of the ponds leaked hundreds of gallons of water per day rendering them useless for fish production.  “Meeting our fish stocking requests had become challenging in recent years, and with an ever increasing demand for fish stocking, we were not able to keep up,” said Rob Holm, Hatchery Manager.  The Service installed plastic liners in some of the other ponds in past years, and they greatly improved fish production for the hatchery.  Holm indicated that walleye production saw an 18 percent increase and pike a 57 percent jump over unlined ponds. “On a peak demand year when we are targeting walleye stockings, the liners can add as many as 2 million additional walleye to bolster our stocking effort,” said Holm.  

The hatchery’s water supply for the ponds originates at the bottom of Lake Sakakawea.  The cold water temperature of the lake is not conducive to raising walleye.  Pond liners capture solar energy to heat the water, magnify the response of the food chain and in general provide higher numbers and quality of fish in a shorter time span.  Liners also eliminated aquatic weeds and invertebrates that provided competition to the developing walleye, perch and northern pike.   

Funding for these projects and hundreds more across the nation comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  Of the $3 billion appropriated to the Department of the Interior, the Act provides $280 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – which includes $115 million for construction, repair and energy efficiency retrofit projects at Service facilities, and $165 million for habitat restoration, deferred maintenance and capital improvement projects. The Service will benefit from an additional $10 million, which is administered by the Department of Transportation and is not included in the Service’s $280 million appropriation that will be used to rebuild and improve roads on several national wildlife refuges. Projects will immediately create local jobs in the communities where they are located, while stimulating long-term employment and economic opportunities for the American public.

Recovery Act projects address long-standing priority needs identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through its capital planning process. The Service worked through a rigorous merit-based process to identify and prioritize investments meeting the criteria put forth in the Recovery Act: namely, that a project addresses the Department’s highest priority mission needs; generates the largest number of jobs in the shortest period of time; and creates lasting value for the American public.

For a full list of funded projects nationwide, go to the Department’s Recovery Web Site at For a list of Service projects, click on the Service’s logo at the bottom of the page.  Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department of the Interior’s economic recovery projects. The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on the recovery web site, which will include an interactive map that enables the public to track where and how the Department’s recovery dollars are being spent.  In addition, the public can submit questions, comments or concerns at recoveryact [at] fws [dot] gov.

Chris Henderson, Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, and the Interior Economic Recovery Task Force will work closely with the Department of the Interior’s Inspector General to ensure the Recovery Program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility and transparency that President Obama has set.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit