Hatchery Models Its Success

by Stacy Goodman

This article appeared in The Issaquah Press, December 31, 1997

Issaquah has been called upon to help save Mount Whitney Hatchery in California.

The California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) has asked Steve Bell, the executive director of Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (FISH), to share how the Issaquah community was able to save its hatchery from closure five years ago.

Issaquah nearly lost its hatchery when the state thought the facility might be too old and not worth continued budget investments, and without a unique fish stock.

Community members, the City of Issaquah and local legislators rallied to save it, and expanded the hatchery's mission to teach people about the lives of salmon.

"The state hadn't really recognized its educational value," Bell said. "And now they do."

The Mount Whitney Hatchery faces other challenges. It is in a rural community and has diseased water, Bell said.

"The community and the CDFG are very interested to see how we resolved things," Bell said. "They don't have the visitors and students that we have. Their challenges are different."

Bell will meet with Mount Whitney's strategic planning team on Jan. 8 in Whitney. In addition to presenting a slide show about the Issaquah operation, he will share how Issaquah developed a master plan and created FISH for its hatchery.

"I am hopeful that we can learn from your successes and setbacks as we begin a similar planning effort at Mount Whitney," wrote Bob Garrison, coordinator of Interpretive Services/Aquatic Education at the California in a letter to Bell. Mount Whitney is an historic hatchery in east central California.

"It says a lot about the uniqueness of this situation (in Issaquah) that it's well-known outside the state," Bell said.

This Article © 1997 Issaquah Press.

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