Major renovation underway at Bennett Springs Hatchery


LEBANON, Mo. (KY3/Mo. Department of Conservation press release) – Visitors to Bennett Spring State Park will soon notice the sights and sounds of heavy machinery operating in the park. This work is the first phase of a Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Bennett Spring Hatchery renovation project that will ensure that one of Missouri’s most popular trout parks remains a premier destination for trout viewing. family fishing.

MDC is working with HDR Engineering Inc. on a multi-year, $20 million project that will repair or replace parts of the hatchery’s aging infrastructure. This project will incorporate new technologies that will improve fish production and repair or replace parts of the hatchery that are no longer functioning or malfunctioning due to age.

Phase I of the project is ongoing and includes several actions in the park that are part of field surveys. Projects involved in this phase include land surveying, flow monitoring, geotechnical investigations, utility location and groundwater test well development.

What visitors to Bennett Spring will notice most during this initial phase are the sounds of machinery and periodic access restrictions to certain parts of the park. The MDC consultant will drill a groundwater test well at the north end of the hatchery (near Bennett Spring State Park Lodge). During well drilling and testing activities, the park road leading to the campground will be limited to one lane of traffic, but will remain open to through traffic. Drilling activities have already started and will be completed by the end of January. Well testing will follow the drilling process and is expected to be completed in February.

Once the field surveys are completed, the consultant will start the design during phase II. This phase will have a limited impact on the activity of the national park.

Phase III will be the construction phase. Proposed upgrades to the hatchery include a new intake structure, reconstruction of some channels, piping upgrades, and numerous upgrades that will protect the hatchery from flooding and improve fish production capacity. Improvements will also be made to the MDC hatchery office, workshop and feed storage facilities.

The construction phase is expected to start in 2023 and is expected to last two years. During construction, there may be temporary restrictions to fishing access on certain parts of the watercourse. MDC will work with Bennett Spring State Park staff to inform the public of the impact construction may have on the park.

“These renovations will breathe new life into our aging hatchery, improving the safety of hatchery staff while providing increased safety for our trout,” said Ben Havens, Hatchery Manager, MDC Bennett Spring. “Using new technologies will allow us to grow quality fish that the public can enjoy for many years to come.”

When the construction phase begins, the hatchery will not operate. Existing fish will be moved to MDC hatcheries in Shepherd of the Hills, Montauk and Roaring River during this time. Although the hatchery will be closed during the construction phase of the renovation project, anglers will not see any changes to the existing seasons. Fish transported from other MDC hatcheries will be stocked daily during the regular season at Bennett Spring. The winter fishing and release season will not be impacted.

“The Hatchery team is very committed to producing a quality fishing experience for everyone who visits Bennett Spring and we truly appreciate the public support as we work on these improvements to make Bennett Spring a great fishing destination. top-notch trout,” Havens said.

Each year, up to one million trout are raised from egg to fry at the Bennett Spring Hatchery and the hatchery stocks 350,000 12½’s in the creek each season. (Some of the fish raised at the hatchery are stocked elsewhere in the state.) However, the benefits of these improvements go beyond improving fish production procedures at Bennett Spring Hatchery. To grasp the true significance of infrastructure improvements, consider the more than 140,000 people who fish at Bennett Spring each year, the thousands of visitors the park receives, and the economic ripple effect all of this activity generates in terms of fishing. money spent on meals, accommodation. , gas, etc Data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicates that money spent on trout fishing in Missouri generates more than $187 million in economic impact each year.

Trout fishing at Bennett Spring has a history dating back to the early 1900s. MDC operates the hatchery and trout fishery at Bennett Spring State Park. State park facilities are operated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

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