MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The loss of the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife's oldest fish hatchery after flooding from Tropical Storm Irene could make it harder for anglers to find fish in some rivers and streams.
Many of the brook trout the state releases every year were raised in the Roxbury hatchery, including the 2-year-old fish released as part of the department's trophy trout program. Those trout are usually at least a foot long and weigh 1 pound.
The department shifted production so the trophy trout can be raised in other hatcheries, but the state hasn't been able to make up for a 30 percent loss in the small yearling trout, said Adam Miller, the state's fish culture operations manager. Those are usually about 8 inches long and stocked across Vermont.
"There are still a lot of fish out there, but for the people who key in on brook trout, that's obviously a big concern for us," Miller said.
When Irene hit Vermont in August 2011, the flooding washed about 90,000 fish from the Roxbury hatchery and filled the facility's outdoor ponds with gravel and silt. The state hopes to reopen the hatchery, but a replacement that meets current clean-water standards would cost nearly $4.5 million. There's no word on when that might happen.
The state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been unable to agree on funding for a replacement. The state just appealed a FEMA decision to deny funding for the project.
This year, the state planned to stock almost 8,500 trophy trout in rivers and streams across the state. They also planned to stock 257,600 smaller fish in Vermont's inland waterways and 346,000 trout and salmon in Lake Champlain.