Aggressive firefighting and some luck saved the historic Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery above Independence during the Inyo Complex Fire. The manager there made it clear – the fire did not change trout plants and they did not lose all of the brood stock.
The Department of Fish and Game has repeatedly tried to close the Whitney Hatchery over the years, and residents have fought back – hard. In fact, recently, the Friends of Mt. Whitney Hatchery launched an aggressive program to make the old attraction newer.
As for the fire, DFG Mgr. Bob Wakefield confirmed that the hatchery did lose all the two year old brood stock in the outdoor raceways. All the brood stock trout in the pond in front of the hatchery survived the fire. The experimental fish inside the hatchery building were all lost.
The manager explained that the fire generated a lot of ash and debris which were not filtered out of Oak Creek which then flowed into the hatchery, suffocating the fish in the raceways indoors and out.
Wakefield said that this was mostly the north fork of Oak Creek, which has now been diverted away from the hatchery to allow things to clean out.
To reports that the Gold Trout broodstock were lost, Wakefield said that is not true. He said the Goldens are up in Cottonwood Lakes.
The manager said that there has been no change in trout plants. He and others are taking fish from Black Rock Hatchery to plant streams and lakes from Cottonwood in the south to Bishop Creek drainage in the north. Wakefield said that they have even planted trout in the Rock Creek and Mammoth areas since mudsnails have invaded Hot Creek Hatchery.