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Trout hatcheries damaged -- Lake Superior/NE Minnesota impacts?

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I saw an article in the Duluth News Tribune that says the hatcheries for trout in SE Minnesota have been badly damaged due to the flooding. It appears that our NE Minnesota Lake Trout and Stream Trout in Lakes stocking may be affected by this. I'm sure the SE Minnesota streams are of serious concern also, but I'm wondering how our stocked trout lakes and Lake Superior are going to be impacted.

Flooding shuts down state's No. 2 campground, ruins hatcheries

When it comes to nature tourism in southeastern Minnesota, the region's bucolic rivers and streams giveth and they taketh away.

Two major river systems - the Whitewater and Root - turned into torrents of destruction during Sunday's flooding, severely damaging popular camping, bicycling and fishing areas and facilities.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials were still surveying the damage this week, but one of the state park system's jewels - Whitewater State Park near Elba - was heavily damaged and won't reopen for months, they said.

The Middle Branch of the Whitewater River, which runs through the park, roared out of its banks early Sunday morning, wiping out three bridges and damaging campgrounds, restrooms, a group dining hall and the septic and water systems. About 500 campers were evacuated Saturday night, but a dozen campers were stranded at a primitive campsite overnight. They were evacuated the next morning.

"Luckily, our flood alarm system was activated, and no one was hurt," said Chuck Kartak, deputy director of the DNR's Division of Parks and Recreation. "But significant damage was done to the infrastructure, and the damage will be over $1 million, for sure."

The 2,700-acre park ranks No. 2 in overnight camping visitors among 72 state parks and recreation areas, drawing about 300,000 people annually. Hundreds of campers with reservations are getting refunds, Kartak said.

Elsewhere, swollen rivers carved out new channels, ripped up trails and killed countless wild and hatchery trout.

Between Lanesboro and Houston, the Root River State Trail - one of the state's most popular bicycling routes - was heavily damaged. About 400 feet of the paved trail washed away near Lanesboro, and four to five miles remain under water, said Forrest Boe, DNR Division of Trails and Waterways director. Deep mud covered parts of the 42-mile-long trail.

"It's safe to say it will take over $1 million to repair," Boe said.

Most hiking, bicycling and off-road trails are closed in southeast Minnesota until further notice. Boe advised canoeists and kayakers to stay away from swollen waterways.

"It's very dangerous to be on the water because these rivers are still at flood stage," he said.

Crystal Springs Fish Hatchery near Altura, an important trout-rearing facility, sustained heavy damage. Many of the hatchery's 300,000 young trout died when the Middle Branch of the Whitewater River swept through the facility. Lake, brook and rainbow trout were killed, as well as a hybrid trout called splake. The fish were destined for dozens of lakes and river around the state, including Lake Superior.

"I don't have an estimate, but there were significant losses," said Darryl Bathel, DNR coldwater production supervisor.

Officials hope a prized strain of lake trout, used to restock Lake Superior for the past two decades, survived at Crystal Springs, but many young were killed.

"We spent the entire 1980s developing that strain of Isle Royale lake trout," Bathel said. "Some fish are left in the raceway, but we don't know how many."

Two other DNR regional hatcheries, Lanesboro and Peterson, escaped major damage.

An unknown number of wild trout were killed by floodwaters, said Dirk Peterson, regional fisheries supervisor. The area's unique, coldwater streams are the most popular trout fisheries in the state, and a pulse of warm, sediment-laden rainwater is deadly to trout.

While trout are, to a degree, adapted to survive small floods, "this is a localized flood of historic proportions," Peterson said. There could be long-term negative impacts on spawning areas, he said.

Fisheries crews were assessing damage, but "when you move an entire (river) channel, that's not a good thing," Peterson said.

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Steve Foss

Hey cashcrews, shoot me an e-mail, will you? I need to ask you something.

Well, considering the numbers, I doubt L.S. lake trout will be harmed. Sounds like a one-year loss in stocking numbers, and that's probably not much of a big deal in the long run. As to whether many of the Isle Royale strain survived the flood, I don't know if that matters much. I'm assuming they're getting the eggs from fish spawning in Lake Superior, though. If they've got captive fish and are getting eggs and milt that way, it could force a bit of a holdup, but in the end I'd think they could just go trap themselves a few more of that strain to keep on hand and produce eggs.

Anyone know how those Isle Royale strain stockers are produced?

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Hello $20 trout stamp next year.

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I found this article on the DNT web site today.

I also have emailed Don Schreiner and he said the 2008 stocking will likely not be a full quota. But 2009 should be back to full quota. He also said the Isle Royale brood stock appear to be ok. I have included his explanation of the brood stocks' condition. "However, all of the remaining fish have endured extremely stressful conditions and it will take at least 2-4 more weeks before we know how healthy the remaining stock are. We do plan to contact both the USFWS and WIDNR to see if they might have any surplus lake trout of appropriate strain for L.S., but do not expect that to be the case. We also have to be extremely careful not to expose our resident wild stocks to VHS."

Flood inundates lake trout hatchery

Sam Cook Duluth News Tribune

Published Friday, August 24, 2007

Lots of lake trout earmarked for stocking in Lake Superior now may be belly-up in the Mississippi River.

Last weekend’s flooding in southeastern Minnesota flooded the Crystal Springs Hatchery near Altura, Minn., sweeping away thousands of juvenile lake trout, said Darryl Bathel, coldwater production supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Duluth. About 172,000 of the young lake trout at the hatchery were to be stocked next spring in Lake Superior.

“Of that, I do not know what’s left,” Bathel said. “We assume most of them died. There were lots of dead fish on the ground and stuck in the mud after the water receded.”

The DNR stocks lake trout fingerlings in the portion of Lake Superior from Duluth to just beyond Two Harbors. Those fish represent about 30 percent of the total lake trout added to the population each year in that zone, said Don Schreiner, Lake Superior area fisheries supervisor for the Minnesota DNR. Natural reproduction accounts for about 70 percent in the zone.

The stocked lake trout wouldn’t have been vulnerable to angling until about 2013, Schreiner said.

“The lake trout population is made up of so many year-classes because [lake trout] are so long-lived,” Schreiner said, “that people might not even notice.”

Lake trout can live for 25 to 30 years in Lake Superior.

Lake trout were formerly stocked in the other Minnesota waters of Lake Superior but that stocking ended as natural reproduction has increased, Schreiner said.

Crystal Springs Hatchery maintains adult lake trout and brook trout, called brood stock, from which young lake trout and brook trout are raised, Bathel said. Most of the brood stock appeared to have survived the flooding, he said.

The hatchery is in the Whitewater River floodplain in Winona County. Seventeen inches of rain fell in the area last weekend, pushing the Whitewater River out of its banks. The river inuandated the hatchery, blowing doors off concrete fish runways and freeing the fish, Bathel said. Many trout were washed away. Those that lived suffered stress from warmer than usual water.

“It’s amazing to me how anything did survive,” Bathel said. “They’ve been through a lot of stress. There could be some latent mortality.”

The lake trout brood stock at the hatchery are derived from the Isle Royale strain of Lake Superior lake trout, Bathel said. Enough brood stock remain that the hatchery should be able to meet its quota for Lake Superior stocking in 2009 and beyond, he said.

No young brook trout were killed or washed away in the flooding, Bathel said, because they had already been stocked this year. About 40 percent of the splake (a cross between lake trout and brook trout) destined for lakes in Northeastern Minnesota this fall were killed or washed away, Bathel said. The remaining 60 percent will be stocked as usual this fall.

This is the most serious flooding incident in a state hatchery that Bathel can remember since a flood affected the same area in 1978. A DNR hatchery at Lanesboro, Minn., has flooded to a lesser degree three times since 2000.

“What can you say?” Bathel said. “Culturing fish is a very risky business. This is one of the things that can really bite you.”

Schreiner said he will call Wisconsin officials to see if they have any surplus lake trout available next spring. Wisconsin stocks lake trout in its waters from Duluth to near Cornucopia. But Schreiner doubts if Wisconsin will have surplus fish, he said.

Like Bathel, Schreiner said raising fish in hatcheries is always risky.

“That’s why we’ve been working so hard to go to wild production,” he said.

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Steve Foss

Thanks, captjon. That answers the questions I had.

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My brother owns part of a valley south of Lewiston where we four wheel, hunt, act like (Contact Us Please), and open trout season with kids and families. A deep spot in the stream usually means 3'. It was over 35' deep during the flood.

The group of owners further dowm the valley had a pretty private campground with a jointly owned hut with a bar and covered cooking area for bigger groups. Three of the four campers are just simply gone, one is smashed up in a tree, and the cookout area and approximately 1 acre lawn and fire area is gone. Its really shame, especially for the older guys who grew up there and who don't have a bunch of money to repair their lives, let alone toys.

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outdoor ran

$20 trout stamp. Boy the DNR would be able to buy a bunch of sucker minnows to feed there musky stock with that. We would gladly take some of that water and rain up here, man do we need it bad.

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We need rain up here Real Bad! Does anyone know if there have been any trout die offs in the streams(the Midway) up here because of the low water.

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Randy the suckers will work for them just fine but they do not bite on the lake with what I use on the lake confused.gif. They should just call it the sucker fund confused.gif. well said the sucker fund who is the sucker for buying the stamp I said this be for smirk.gif.

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