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Roxbury Fish Hatchery reopens nearly a decade after Irene

Published: Dec. 4, 2020 at 5:38 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - One of the last rebuilding projects from Tropical Storm Irene is complete. Ike Bendavid has the exclusive story of the nearly decade-long effort to reopen the state’s Roxbury Fish Hatchery.

Jeremy Whalen has been working for Vermont Fish & Wildlife at the Roxbury Fish Hatchery for over 20 years. The hatchery, built in 1891, was the first of its kind and is listed as a historic site. Like many structures across the state, it felt the wrath of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and was mostly destroyed.

Whalen still remembers walking up and seeing thousands of fish scattered on the property. “It was wiped out. I mean it was virtually gone all the way down through. You knew by looking at it there was nothing you could... it was gone,” he said.

“I remember people saying there were fish all over the road,” said John Aberth, a local resident. He says the hatchery is an attraction in this small town. “I think it’s great. It’s very historic. The Roxbury Fish Hatchery is the first fish hatchery in the state. I remember visiting it as a kid.”

With support from state and federal partners, it took seven years of designing, permitting, and building to complete the $6 million renovations. “This new facility is Vermont’s oldest facility but it’s also the newest facility,” Whalen said.

The renovated hatchery stays true to its roots with historic details from the original building. It will be used to rear thousands of fish to stock Vermont waterways with top of the line equipment. “We haven’t increased our production capacity, but what we have done is improve the way we are going to grow those fish and the quality of those fish are going to be a lot better,” Whalen said. “The improved facility is really an improvement to water quality and the receiving watershed.”

Officials say when the pandemic is over, the hatcheries viewing area will be filled with brook trout that visitors can feed, and continuing a 100-year tradition.

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Roxbury fish hatchery renovation marks last Irene recovery project

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