The Mt. Whitney Hatchery took a big hit this summer when flash floods sent tons of mud, debris and water down Oak Creek. The trout runways completely filled up with mud and all of the debris ruined the famous trout pond in front of the historic building.
Today, the building still stands, untouched by the natural disaster around it. Gary Williams, Senior Hatchery Supervisor, reported that Fish and Game will maintain Mt. Whitney, but the facility will be very slow to recover.
Williams said that by next spring he hopes the public can return to Mt. Whitney Hatchery to enjoy the historic building and grounds, but it may take a couple of years or more to restore Mt. Whitney to a functioning hatchery.
Williams said Fish and Game wants to see some weather hit to find out what more rain will mean in terms of washing the remaining tons of debris down the creek bed. “We need to see some water coming down before we introduce any fish.” Williams said once Fish and Game understands how nature will react with the damaged system, crews will build a protective barrier, a kind of dike, above the hatchery to protect it from what could be future flooding.
But first, said Williams, Mother Nature needs to clean things out. We need storms to come in and clear up the debris. Once that happens, we’ll plan for a barrier.
In the mean time, fish rearing will go on at nearby Black Rock Hatchery.