What at first looked like another grim closure of the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery near Independence turned into a chance to come up with a procedure to handle any more floods or issues at the famous facility.
More than a year ago, a major downpour sent debris and mud down through the hatchery and onto Highway 395. Major clean-up followed. The hatchery re-opened last spring. Then in recent days heavy rains led to a clogged culvert above the hatchery and water, silt and rock flowed down into the parking lot. Fish and Game closed the hatchery.
Bruce Ivey of Friends of Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery said that Senior Hatchery Manager of several California hatcheries, Gary Williams, traveled up Monday and met with Ivey, Jim Riley, Dr. Jim Stroh and Inyo Public Works Director Ted Pederson. Ivey said they worked out a protocol for any future closures of the hatchery.
Barring major disasters, future flooding or other problems will be considered by Fish and Game, Ted Pederson, and Dr. Stroh, who is a geologist. The three will make decisions over the phone regarding public safety.
Ivey said it was expected that the hatchery would re-open, possibly by late yesterday.