Mules and pond scoops led the way with the first excavation work to build the Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery 100 years ago this month. Today the hatchery is an integral part of the community in Orangeburg, South Carolina, near Lakes Marion and Moultrie. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will host a public celebration at the hatchery on Wednesday, September 28, 2011, at 10 a.m. to rededicate the century-old facility.
“It’s an honor to witness a huge milestone of one of the real gems in the Service's National Fish Hatchery System,” says Cindy Dohner, Southeast Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Orangeburg has served a critical role in fisheries conservation in our Region, and its good work will become even more critical in the century to come.”
Wallace Jenkins assists Willie Booker at the hatchery
Service representatives, other organizations and agencies, and the community are invited to attend the free event, followed by a luncheon and hatchery tours. Students from a local elementary school will plant a pollinator garden at the hatchery to commemorate the milestone.
Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery has adapted to serve the needs of Americans throughout its long history. When first established it provided fish for subsistence, stocking local farm ponds and sending other fish by railcar all across the county. Today it works with endangered species, including the shortnose sturgeon and freshwater mussels. It also produces fish for recreation, like striped bass, a popular sport fish. The hatchery has made significant contributions to the area’s renowned fishing opportunities. The total economic impact of recreational fish production at Orangeburg was more than $13.3 million in 2010, generating 127 jobs throughout many industries, worth $3.3 million in wages.
“The hatchery has been here for 100 years, that shows you the value of what we do.” says Willie Booker, who has been the hatchery's manager for the past 20 years. “This hatchery and the work we do really mean a lot to people. I am proud to be a part of it.”
COOL old postcard from 1920 showing how the hatchery used to look
Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery is a popular destination for 20,000 visitors each year, offering innovative outdoor classrooms, a nature-explore playground, trails, bird watching, a 100-acre lake and a visitor center with aquarium. By hosting special events throughout the year for youth, special needs groups and senior citizens, the hatchery promotes the increased quality of life and conservation benefits provided by healthy fisheries. Orangeburg promotes the importance of connecting people, especially children, to nature.
To view a past blog about the Columbia fish hatchery click here.