You have permission to edit this article.

Hatchery closes down again following three years of renovations


Kernville's Kern River Fish Hatchery reopened on March 25, 2019, after three years of renovations and improvements. Now it's closed again as the state looks for money to replace a 50-year-old pipeline the state says wasn't providing a reliable water supply. The hatchery has been popular with schoolchildren and tourists. The facility would take in catchable-size fish raised in the Fresno area and plant them for recreational fishing in Brite Lake, Hart Park, the Kern River, Lake Ming and The Park at Riverwalk. The roughly 15-acre facility at 14415 Sierra Way first opened in 1928 and is operated by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife.

A Kernville hatchery that has served local anglers for almost a century will soon close down again 20 months after it reopened following three years of renovations.

The Kern River Hatchery, a 15-acre tourism staple that is the Central Valley's oldest state-run fish facility, must close for repairs Dec. 1 mainly because a 50-year-old pipeline that delivers water to the facility needs to be replaced, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

It said in a news release Monday other work is needed but that the primary obstacle to securing an adequate water supply and restoring full functionality will be replacing the conduit it said "no longer adequately provides a reliable water supply for fish production."

There was no word on how soon the hatchery at 14415 Sierra Way might reopen. The CDFW said it first needs to find money to carry out the necessary repairs.

“It is an integral part of the community," CDFW Fisheries Program Manager Gerald Hatler said in the release. "Completing these repairs will ultimately allow us to develop a native fishery and operate a hatchery that serves Californians in a way that we haven’t realized at this facility before.”

The hatchery opened to visitors March 25, 2019, with expanded capacity for taking in, raising and growing trout.

During the three years it was closed, old raceways — tank-like structures holding young fish — were removed and new ones installed. Large "round tanks" were also put in as part of the preparations for raising Kern River rainbow trout.

Other equipment put in during the three years of renovations included a backup electricity generator, a special screen for filtering out debris and a recirculating aquaculture system that, for the first time, allows the facility to recycle water.

The CDFW had said the hatchery would continue to receive catchable-size rainbow trout raised by the San Joaquin Hatchery near Fresno, but that starting in summer 2019 it would also spawn a type of native fish that's highly prized by anglers.

The idea then was for state workers and volunteers to hike to a remote creek in the southern Sierra Nevada to find genetically pure Kern River rainbow trout. Specimens were to be gathered up and flown by helicopter to the hatchery. There they were to be raised and released into the river.

It was unclear Monday how far those plans got, as Hatler did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Follow John Cox on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf