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Roxbury Fish Hatchery still on the mend after Irene - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Roxbury Fish Hatchery still on the mend after Irene

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The Roxbury Fish Hatchery was heavily damaged in Tropical Storm Irene. Three years later it is still awaiting major repairs.

The hatchery is on the National Register of Historic Places, but it still doesn't have the money it needs to get back to the way it was before the storm. Now those in charge are appealing to the federal government to cover the cost.

The Roxbury Fish Hatchery was once home to more than 70,000 trout. Trout that stocked waters across Vermont. In August of 2011 Tropical Storm Irene breached a nearby dam flooding the low-lying area and wiping out all the fish."We anticipated some sort of loss, but not to the extent of what we saw," said Jeremy Whalen, the Supervisor of the Hatchery.

"This whole area was a pond that we used to have brook trout in and rainbow trout as well," said Fish Culture Operations Chief Adam Miller.

The hatchery's ponds and concrete barriers were all destroyed, and now three years later the fish hatchery sill needs repairs. Vermont wants help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for what will be a $4.5 million dollar project, but so far the federal agency says it will not pay for the work. Without a new system to filter fish feces and chemicals the hatchery will not meet state or national clean water standards.

The state argues FEMA is required to assist in meeting these standards. In an appeal filed Friday, it says "As a matter of policy FEMA is denying reimbursement for an environmental requirement mandated by Congress and the Vermont State Legislature."

"I'm confident that the state's appeal is going to help clear up some misunderstandings why the Clean Water Act is required to rebuild this facility to what it needs to be," Miller said.

More than 2,000 visitors stop by the popular tourist destination every year. Operations Chief Adam Miller says the traffic helped boost the state's economy. "There were a lot of people passing through the town of Vermont so this was a significant eco-tourism destination," Miller said. "The fish produced from the Roxbury hatchery actually contribute about $2.4 million annually to the State of Vermont."

Whether FEMA accepts the state's appeal, the state of Vermont says it will rebuild the hatchery. "One of the important things I think is that the state is committed to rebuilding the Roxbury hatchery regardless of what happens with FEMA," Miller said.

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