Friday, August 28, 2020

Julianne Grenn's Grayling Hatchery Gazette

Note: Julianne wrote about her work as one of Michigan Sea Grant's 2020 summer interns. She even produced a fully laid-out PDF version of her Hatchery Gazette. Click here to read it! 

A family safely visits the Grayling Hatchery during Summer 2020. Photo: Julianne Grenn

My name is Julianne Grenn, and I am a Biology major at Lake Superior State University (LSSU). I am the first Anglers of the Au Sable Summer Research fellow, a new partnership between the Anglers and LSSU. One of my primary responsibilities is to create an operations manual for the Grayling Fish Hatchery and increase educational information for visitors. My work at the hatchery has helped deepen my appreciation and understanding of aquaculture and community outreach, and I hope your knowledge and interest will be expanded too. 

Kids can fish in the Children's Pond for free. Photo: Julianne Grenn

Many of you may be unaware of the Grayling Fish Hatchery's history, but it has a long one and has been in existence for over 100 years! The Grayling Fish Hatchery was established in 1919 by Rasmus Hanson and several fellow sportsmen, including Henry and Edsel Ford. Their intent was to reintroduce Grayling to local waters. Unfortunately, many of the fish did not survive, and production was switched to raising Brook, Brown, and Rainbow Trout, the Au Sable varieties we know and love today. The hatchery operated under private ownership until the state of Michigan bought the facility in 1926. Since then, the hatchery has changed ownership several times, passing from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to commercial fish producers, and finally to Grayling Hatchery Incorporated in 2017.

Our mission is to establish the hatchery as a hub of learning and discovery--a place where all can come to experience the wonders and beauty of the Au Sable River. We aim to educate our guests about the history, ecology, and conservation of the Au Sable River for generations. 

Visitors can explore the hatchery facility. Photo: Julianne Grenn

We are currently raising 1,300 Rainbow Trout, which were donated by the MI DNR. Following our mission to preserve and protect the Au Sable, fish are reared at low densities to provide a local attraction while conserving the river. Additionally, the hatchery partnered with the Anglers of the Au Sable to conduct water quality tests at locations above and below the hatchery to ensure that phosphate and total suspended particle loads are minimized.

We continue to work alongside scientists and advocacy groups to limit our footprint on the environment and provide learning opportunities for all who visit the hatchery. At the end of the summer, all of the trout are transferred to local lakes where anglers can pursue them.

We are open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-4 pm and offer a variety of engaging activities for guests. Due to COVID 19, we cannot provide fee-fishing, but those ages 16 and under are welcome to fish in the Children's Pond for free. Guests also can feed the trout in two of our raceways and the king-sized bluegill and painted turtles in the Children's Fishing Pond. Visiting our turtle sanctuary is a special treat, as it houses a rare Blanding's Turtle and is one of the more popular attractions for children. 

The Blanding’s Turtle who lives in the turtle sanctuary might pose for photos. Photo: Julianne Grenn

This year's improvements spread beyond the logistical functions of the hatchery. A live streaming trout camera will be installed along a portion of the Au Sable River. Trout-cam footage will be available to the public through the hatchery's website, LSSU's Center for Freshwater Research and Education page, and the Grayling Visitors Bureau website. Additional efforts also are underway to enhance the facility's aesthetic appeal. 

A mural of an Arctic Grayling will be painted on the back of the new visitor's center by a local artist! The interior of the center, formerly the admission building, has already been painted, and both the indoor and outdoor spaces will feature nearly 30 informational signs. These improvements culminated with the publication and release of the hatchery's first self-guided tour brochure. 

The resident Blanding's Turtle soaks in some sunshine. Photo: Julianne Grenn

Grayling Hatchery Incorporated continues its efforts to establish a facility that attracts families and researchers while educating visitors on the unique natural resource we have in our backyard - the Au Sable River. Ultimately, our purpose is to serve the community and the Au Sable River. The Grayling Fish Hatchery strives to preserve, protect, and enhance the relationship between our families, our Anglers, and nature. We hope you can visit the Grayling Fish Hatchery to experience all of our education and conservation initiatives firsthand. We have been hatching inspiration since 1919.

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