Trout plan pinched by budgetThe Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is making changes to the way it raises, stocks and manages trout under its statewide trout program.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is making changes to the way it raises, stocks and manages trout under its statewide trout program. The changes will have minimal effect on anglers but will result in an immediate savings of about $70,000 in electrical and feed expenses, and up to $200,000 annually when changes are fully implemented.
Effective this year, the DNR will close a portion of its French River Hatchery near Duluth, shift trout production among various hatcheries, and reduce or eliminate stocking in 60 lakes and streams. This will take place in areas where results have not met expectations or where self-sustaining trout populations have been established.
The new approach follows an in-depth assessment by DNR staff and implements various aspects of the DNR’s Lake Superior and southeast Minnesota trout plans. Last year, the DNR stocked 2.2 million trout at a cost of $2.4 million. In recent years the DNR’s trout program has included 615 designated trout streams, 163 designated trout lakes, 112 inland lake trout lakes, two two-story trout-and-warm water fishing lakes, and the 1.4 million-acre Lake Superior.
“We are reducing operating costs where they are high, and stocking efforts where the return on investment is low,” said Dirk Peterson, acting DNR fisheries chief.
Anglers will not be significantly affected because stocking reductions will be in only those waters where fishing pressure was low, trout survival and growth was poor, or the stocking has resulted in a self-sustaining fishery that is no longer dependent upon stocking, Peterson added.
The upcoming changes are the result of a lengthy internal review of the DNR’s trout program. Managers revised traditional stocking recommendations based on angler use, the number of fish caught by anglers, and whether stocking still made sense based on competing warm water fish populations or other factors. The field assessment included reviewing Lake Superior.
Similarly, DNR staff took a hard look at the French River Hatchery, which is the agency’s most expensive hatchery to operate and the most susceptible to biosecurity issues because of its connection to Lake Superior and the entire Great Lakes system, which contains a growing number of invasive exotic species and fish diseases. To address these concerns, the agency will shift part of the French River Hatchery production to the DNR hatchery near Remer.
The Spire Valley Hatchery will produce 80,000 yearling rainbow trout kamloops to be stocked in the Lester, Talmadge and French rivers. Previously, these fish had been reared at the French River Hatchery.
The French River Hatchery will produce up to 12,000 fingerlings and 25,000 yearling rainbow trout kamloops in addition to 550,000 steelhead fry and 55,000 frylings for stocking in Lake Superior.