Coursey Springs Fish Hatchery Reopens Following Two Years Of Renovations
Williamsville, Va – The Coursey Springs State Fish Hatchery just south of Williamsville, in Bath County Virginia, has now reopened following a 2 year long renovation. The hatchery is administered by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and is funded by fishing and hunting licenses purchased in Virginia each year. After a period of trial operation starting in December 2009 to test the systems, the hatchery started culturing fish in March.
Hatchery manager Eric Wooding says the hatchery now consists of three buildings, two of which are used for rearing fish. Both rearing buildings are under pavilion covers to protect the fish from predators such as herons, eagles and osprey.
Adding oxygen to the spring water allows the hatchery to grow more fish in each tank making for more efficient space utilization. In addition, fish will grow faster with increased oxygen in the water. This shortens the time fish spend in the hatchery before being released into streams and rivers, thereby saving money on fish food.
One of the important reasons for this renovation was to improve the treatment of fish waste. Before the renovation the hatchery had difficulty meeting Virginia Department of Environmental Quality water quality standards for the water released back into Spring Run. Spring Run is a tributary of the Cowpasture River. The hatchery now has a state of the art waste water treatment plant that will have the capability to exceed current DEQ water quality standards.
The first delivery of fish to the hatchery arrived back in early March, three truckloads of Rainbow trout from a trusted disease-free source.
“There was two groups, one was smaller than the other” says Wooding. “That lead group now, they’re already at about 8 inches in average length, so they’ve been doing really well, they really seem to like the new system.”
These fish will be grown up and will be released into streams and rivers in 10 Virginia counties west of the Blue Ridge, from Allegheny County in the south up to Frederick County. When it reaches full operation, it will be the largest fish hatchery in Virginia. The hatchery grounds include about 190 acres of land. A new feature planned for the grounds is a nature trail that will be open to the public.
“We’re going to be adding an actual trail with interpretive signs – we’re thinking it’s going to be anywhere between two to two and one half miles worth of trails” says Wooding. “One trail will take a loop along the Cowpasture [River], another loop will go along Spring Run and then back into an overgrown farm field, then back to the facility.”
The Coursey Springs fish hatchery is located just off Route 678 south of Williamsville and offers guided tours to the public 7 days a week from 8 AM to 3:30 PM. The nature trail is expected to open later this year.