Clouds reflect off a hatchery pond. Photo by Raena Parsons/USFWS
Pond production season is in full swing at Genoa NFH. As a new employee at the hatchery, I’m making my first journey through the annual cycle. I was promised it would be busy and hectic at times, and I haven’t been disappointed. We kicked off the season dividing bloodstock out from their overwintering ponds. The Yellow Perch are the first to take action. We barely got them into their pond in time from the overwintering pond, with eggs and milt running from the fish as they were going into the pond. These will be ready to be harvested in mid-June and sent to their new homes in several state and federal waters. Walleye were next. Once fry were hatched from the egg battery, four production ponds were stocked with around 100,000 fry each towards the end of April. Since then, we have focused on water quality and zooplankton production to start growing these guys up. Phase 1 harvest is underway as of this writing. From there, ponds will be re-stocked at new rates, with any surplus going to state and tribal partners. As waters have warmed, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill, and Black Crappie have started to do their thing. About 16,000 Smallmouth Bass fry were pulled from the nests in the end of May and restocked into 2 ponds to continue grow out. Soon, it will be time to conduct the phase 1 harvest on the others and divvy them to their new ponds to continue growing. As I take my first trip through a production season, I continue to learn something new every day. I can’t help but ponder the future for these fish. Some may find their way onto somebody’s fishing line and provide a meal or a smile. Some might produce the offspring that somebody catches years down the road. Fun to think about the possibilities! By: Nicholas Bloomfield
Genoa National Fish Hatchery’s mission is to recover, restore, maintain and enhance fish and aquatic resources on a basin-wide and national level by producing over 35 aquatic species of varying life stages, participating in active conservation efforts with our partners, and becoming a positive force in the community by educating future generations on the benefits of conservation stewardship.
The Mississippi River Multimedia Gallery sits out front of our Mississippi River Room, located on the bottom level of the Great River Road Interpretive Center. Photo by Raena Parsons/USFWS.
Thanks to our generous sponsors: Friends of the Upper Mississippi, Friends of Pool 9, Dairyland Power Cooperative, and the Wisconsin Mississippi River Parkway Commission, the Great River Road Interpretive Center has a new interactive multimedia display. Produced by Hamline University, The Mississippi River Multimedia Gallery features a wide variety of multimedia content ranging from photo galleries about hatchery programs to educational games and videos. Users have the opportunity to explore the vast history, culture, and story of the mighty Mississippi while also getting more in-depth information about the work Genoa National Fish Hatchery accomplishes annually. Stop by the interpretive center soon to explore this wonderful addition! By: Raena Parsons
BY OREY ECKES, GENOA NFH
Photo Credit: USFWS
Over the last few months, hatchery staff members have been finalizing additional renovations of the holding house from the 2018 walleye production season. Due to increased demand for more walleye eggs from state, tribal and federal partners, the hatchery had increased holding and hatching capacity for walleye eggs and fry in 2018. The modifications of hatching tanks and rearing space allowed the hatchery to collect nearly 70 million walleye and sauger eggs from the Upper Mississippi River for stocking in the spring of 2018.
Upgrades and renovations consisted of: A new aluminum head tank that was installed allowed for a larger available water volume to supply fish rearing tanks, increased particulate settling time and improved oxygenation. New oxygen lines had also been added to improve delivery of oxygen, create more working space, and allow for easier access to the oxygen supply tanks. Maintenance staff member, Jeff Lockington fabricated and installed egg incubation tanks and fry hatching tanks.
The new egg incubation setup allowed for incubation of over 60 million walleye eggs. Zach Kumlin, also a part of the Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) maintenance team, installed flow meters wired to a control box (PLC) to allow biologists to review and manipulate flows for walleye egg treatments. He also installed a peristaltic pump for chemical treatment of eggs to reduce loss of eggs from fungus.
In 2019, staff members are hard at work installing a larger pump to increase water volume and are incorporating a sand filter into the system to remove particulates such as iron, which bind to eggs and newly hatching fry. These new modifications for 2019 will help increase eye up percentages, resulting in better survival of eggs and newly hatched fry. This new setup will allow the hatchery to produce and stock more walleye for recovery and restoration efforts. Genoa NFH staff will be on the Upper Mississippi River this spring in an effort to collect enough walleye eggs to meet our partners’ requests.
DOUG ALOISI, GENOA NFH
Photo Credit: USFWS
Since Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) is centrally located, many Midwestern aquariums periodically contact us for fish for their exhibits to engage the public with. Through these exhibits, our conservation message is also relayed to the public, which helps us to complete our mission to engage the public to conserve and protect our nation’s fish and wildlife resources for the continuing benefit of the nation’s populace. We were able to do this again this spring by making available a net full of nine to ten inch coaster brook trout for display at the world renowned Shedd aquarium at Chicago, Illinois.
These fish were available because of our ongoing cooperative restoration efforts that include the waters of the Grand Portage tribe on the northern shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. The Fish and Wildlife Service has been working with the Isle Royale National Park staff and the tribe since the mid 1990’s to return this popular sportfish to its formal prominence in eastern Lake Superior. Reservation waters receive 10,000 yearling brook trout from Genoa NFH annually.
Through these efforts and strict harvest limits along the north shore that were implemented by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, fall coaster brook trout surveys have indicated an increase in numbers for the recent decade. Good news for the American people, this popular sport fish and a beautiful native fish historically abundant in Lake Superior.
Our new FWCO Project Leader, Rebecca Neely, has been with the Service for almost 19 years and is excited about starting her new position at La Crosse . She has been the station lead of the Carterville FWCO Wilmington Substation for the last three and a half years where her work has been focused on Asian carp in the Illinois River. Prior to working for the Carterville FWCO, Rebecca worked for the Sea Lamprey Control Program, which is where her career with the Service began. She started as a seasonal employee and worked her way up to a team lead position, working in both Ludington and Marquette. Rebecca holds a B.S. in Natural Resources Management from Grand Valley State University, and an M.S. in Fisheries from Michigan State University The most rewarding aspect of her job is the professional and personal relationships she has developed with staff and partners. Away from the office, Rebecca enjoys spending time with her husband and family, traveling, and working on her many craft projects. Stop by the Lester Street office and welcome Rebecca to our Upper Miss.
The Genoa hatchery staff is happy to announce that we are now able to staff the Great River Road Interpretive Center this November with former National Park Service Park Ranger Raena Parsons. Raena joins us as our new Environmental Education Specialist. Raena earned her Bachelor’s degree at Eastern Washington University in 2010, and promptly began her federal career as an intern with the Bureau of Land Management. She also interned with the National Park Service at San Juan Island National Historical Park, and became a full time biological technician at the Historical Park in the same year. She also continued her education, earning her Master’s degree in Environmental Education from Western Washington University. Raena, her husband and daughter made the trek east and arrived just before Thanksgiving. She enjoys family activities, outdoor sports such as rock climbing, running and just plain getting outside. You will find Raena in our new Interpretive Center getting acclimated to our ongoing programs and preparing to build upon a conservation legacy in the community and the Upper Mississippi River Region.
Tagged lake sturgeon ready for release. Credit: USFWS
Fish Biologist James Boase checks tag presence before stocking. Credit: USFWS
Every fall tens of thousands of lake sturgeon depart their temporary home at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) and begin their lives out in the wild, beginning the long process of maturing into 20 plus year old fish that are capable of reproducing on their own. Lake sturgeon populations have been severely reduced throughout their native range the past century due to human influenced effects such as over harvest, dam construction blocking spawning migrations, and degraded water quality. This year two far off restorations took hatchery crew over 500-1000 miles away in order to restore this intriguing species to two river systems within its native range. Genoa NFH was part of a cooperative effort to return lake sturgeon to the Maumee River, Ohio for the first time since they disappeared from the system in the mid 1900’s. This October, 2,400 fingerling lake sturgeon were transported the 9.5 hours to Toledo, Ohio where they were part of the first release ceremony in a cooperative release effort with the Toledo Zoo.
The fish were tagged with a PIT tag, or Passive Integrated Transponder tag, that transmits a unique tag number to an electronic reader when scanned, much the same as a tag that may be used to tag domestic house pets. They were then
released safely into the waters of the Maumee. The next week, over 12,000 fingerling lake sturgeon were transported over 1,000 miles away to assist the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s sturgeon restoration efforts. This year the waters of New York benefited by having another year class of lake sturgeon to grow and thrive in the St. Lawrence River, New York and Lake Ontario watersheds. These multiple year restoration programs ensure that lake sturgeon population numbers and genetic diversity are at levels that can begin to rebuild populations naturally once these long lived species begin to multiply on their own again. In these instances, long range partnerships provide great dividends for natural resource conservation in two distant states.
By Doug Aloisi, Genoa NFH