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Coeur d'Alene, ID


Date: September 25, 2003
Contact: Phil Cooper
(208) 769-1414

Sandpoint fish hatchery facility getting a new look

The old Sandpoint Fish Hatchery on Lakeshore Drive is getting a new look. Ground was recently broken and work has begun to transform the facility into an aquatic education center and satellite fish distribution facility. The completed project will be called the 'Waterlife Discovery Center'.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site on September 17. State Senator Shawn Keough, Representative George Eskridge, and Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Nancy Hadley attended the event. Also represented were the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Idaho Fish and Game Department, the Idaho Wildlife Council and Bonner County Sportsman's Association.

Plans for the facility include a living stream with fish viewing windows, ponds, wildlife viewing boardwalks, a picnic/day use area and other features. At the outset, an open sided discovery center building will hold exhibits and have seating for outdoor education programs. Long-range plans are for the building to eventually be enclosed as money becomes available to enable year round classes and more permanent exhibits. An interpretive trail has already been roughed in on the south side of Lakeshore Drive, and interpretive signage is being developed for the trail to enhance the learning experience.

The 20-acre parcel was purchased by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for $2000 in 1908, with $900 coming from the Bonner County Sportsman's Association. The purchase included an easement to a prime cold-water spring source.

Hatchery production began in 1909, making the facility the third fish hatchery in the state. Three to four million fingerling trout were produced annually at the facility when the total state production was 10 million trout. Rearing ponds were added in the 1920's making the hatchery the largest in the state. The pure 45-degree spring water is cold for rearing fish in comparison to hatcheries in southern Idaho, making it more economical to raise fish in southern Idaho.

New concrete raceways have been built at the site (out of the way of the planned development) to replace crumbling ones. Current plans are to use the facility as a holding and transfer facility for planting fish transported from southern Idaho hatcheries in the Panhandle Region.

Funds for the endeavor currently are coming from grants. The Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation provided initial funding to start the project. The Idaho Fish and Game Department has provided personnel time and coordination to the planning effort, and will permanently fund all hatchery operations at the site. Outside funding sources will be relied upon for completion of most of the educational and interpretive aspects of the facility.




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