One of our largest fish hatcheries in the state is located just below the Virginia Smith Dam that forms Calamus Reservoir. When that reservoir was built we had an unique opportunity to dramatically increase our fish production capabilities and ultimately offer more and better angling opportunities to Nebraska anglers. I am not going to review the entire history of that hatchery construction project because you can read all about it here, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/fishing/programs/hatcheries/calamus.asp . Since this is my blog, I am going to add a personal twist by telling you that I have worked for this outfit, the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, long enough that I was present for the ground-breaking ceremonies for the construction of the Calamus State Fish Hatchery (SFH). I will never forget that day because there was a doozy of a hailstorm that blew through the area just before the ground-breaking ceremonies–it hailed the foliage right off of cedar trees!
Anyway, to get back on track. . . . If you have ever been to Calamus Reservoir you know it sits in the Nebraska sandhills, and the Calamus State Fish Hatchery was built right there below the reservoir. Well, they are called “sandhills” for a reason–they are made of sand! Everyone knows you cannot hold water in sand; it percolates right through. So, when the hatchery ponds were constructed they were lined with plastic–think of black garbage bags except much larger and much thicker. The plastic lining those ponds was installed about 20 years ago and you know how plastic gets after it sits out in the sun and the elements.
There have been a lot of repairs made to those pond liners over the years, but we have eventually arrived at the point where they needed to be replaced. That replacement has been occurring over the past few weeks. Pond bottoms have been reshaped and liners rolled out.
The edge of the liners is trenched in to the pond banks.
Liners are “spliced in” to the catch basins and water control structures of each production pond.
The new plastic is stronger and improved and should last longer and be easier to repair.
Now someone will ask how much did it cost and where did the state come up with all that money? The total cost for replacing liners in 51 production ponds at the Calamus SFH is approximately $2.5 million. This is a big project and we have budgeted specifically for it, planned for it for the past several years; it was a priority.
We have also worked fish production schedules at Calamus and our other state fish hatcheries so this project would interrupt our normal production of fish as little as possible. All the liners will be replaced soon.
Let me say one last thing about our state fish hatcheries. We have five fish hatcheries in Nebraska, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/fishing/programs/hatcheries/hatcheries.asp . The production of fish even in a hatchery can depend somewhat on weather conditions and a host of other factors, so our hatchery production will fluctuate a bit from year to year. Our hatcheries will produce 20 different species of fish for stocking in Nebraska waters this year; everything from redear sunfish to rainbow trout. We use a variety of stocking strategies for a variety of fish in a variety of waters. All of that is determined by our fisheries biologists, fisheries managers across the state. When those guys decide what they need to stock, they ask our hatcheries to produce it and almost all the time those guys “Get-R-Done”! Having worked with our state fish hatchery personnel, I can tell you that they are all top-notch, know exactly what they are doing, work darned hard, and are very proud of the fish the produce to make the Good Life of Nebraska even better! We are blessed to have the state fish hatcheries and fish hatchery workers we have in Nebraska! The replacement of the pond liners at Calamus SFH will enable them to continue to do their job!
Thanks guys, I know many of the fish I catch are products of your hard work!