Oregon fish and wildlife officials say budget cuts have forced the permanent closing of a troubled fish hatchery in southern Oregon.
The Butte Falls hatchery dates back 96 years, and includes buildings from the 1930s. But a quarantine prevented Butte Falls from producing fish following a disease outbreak, four years ago.
Russ Stauff with Oregon Fish and Wildlife says the fish-raising operations were moved at that time to another hatchery, near Medford.
He says closing Butte Falls permanently is tough, but financially necessary.
Russ Stauff: “If we were to reopen Butte Falls hatchery, we would have to cut programs elsewhere. And since we had the programs all covered, it was really just an issue of the facility, we felt the choice was clear. Nobody wanted to close a facility that we’ve operated since World War One, and it’s tough to do that, but we felt the choice was clear.”
Crews have begun demolishing the concrete troughs next to the Butte Falls hatchery to keep animals and fish from falling into them. But Stauff says the historic buildings aren’t being knocked down.
The future of the Butte Falls buildings isn’t clear. The federal government gave the buildings to Oregon in the 1940s for fish production.
The question is whether the feds should take over the hatchery site, if it’s no longer producing fish.