GLE12038

People Fund helps hatchery stay hooked on education

Grant helps Grayling Fish Hatchery keep the fun flowing

When the Grayling Fish Hatchery was founded more than 100 years ago, its primary purpose was to raise fish. But today, it’s mission, while still fish-first, is more education-focused.

Located on the Au Sable River in Grayling, the hatchery was established in 1919 and has been owned by the current organization since 2017.

Hatchery board president Josh Greenberg said fish are no longer hatched at the facility. Instead, every spring the Michigan Department of Natural Resources brings about 1,000 young trout (usually rainbow) to the hatchery, and each fall those same fish are released in nearby Howes
Lake.

Greenberg said released fish are a popular target for people ice fishing on the lake.

“It’s a great use of the resource because by the time we release them, they’ve grown pretty big,” he said, noting the trout are about 6-8 inches long when they arrive and are about 12-16 inches when they are released.

While the fish are at the hatchery, the public is invited to come see them and even feed them, all as part of the organization’s mission “to establish the hatchery as a hub of learning and discovery – a place where all can
come to experience the wonders and beauty of the Au Sable River.”

In 2021 the hatchery received a $2,500 grant from Great Lakes Energy’s People Fund to help pay for removing sand from several raceways that had become unusable.

Greenberg said the re-opened raceways will allow the trout to be spread out among more raceways, leading to a better, and more varied visitor experience. Plans call for at least one of the reclaimed raceways to become a natural stream setting.

“It will give viewers a chance to experience a snapshot of a river. People will be able to see how fish hold in current and use habitat.” Greenberg
said.

The sand removal project won’t involve the one raceway that has been
turned into a frog and turtle habitat, also a popular attraction.

Greenberg said plans also call for one of the raceways to be left open to allow wild fish from the river to come in, allowing viewing of other fish species.

Another popular attraction at the hatchery is a bluegill fishing pond, where children age 16 and under are invited to bring their own bait and tackle for some catch-and-release fishing.

There is no charge to visit the hatchery. Bags of fish food are available for a $1 donation.

“We are completely donation-based, so grants like we received through the People Fund are very important,” Greenberg
said.

Not only does the hatchery regularly host school groups and youth camps, but it is also taking its educational aims even further through a partnership with Lake Superior State University aimed at developing a research program at the site.
The Grayling Fish Hatchery is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. To learn more about the, organization, visit graylingfishhatchery.org/.

Through Great Lakes Energy’s People Fund, participating members agree to have their monthly bills rounded up to the next whole dollar. Using the collected funds, three independent boards award grants to non-profit organizations for charitable activities throughout the cooperative’s service area. To learn more about the People Fund, visit gtlakes.com/people-fund/.

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