Fish are more than dinner, they are a way of life.
That was the message at Tuesday’s 75th anniversary celebration for the Vancouver Trout Hatchery, part of the 100-acre Columbia Springs natural area, 12208 S.E. Evergreen Highway.
“People really love fish, they connect to fish. It’s meaningful to their lives,” said Gala Miller, Columbia Springs executive director. “Fish help connect us to the natural world.”
Built in 1938 — part of the “New Deal” economic revitalization in the Great Depression– the hatchery raises nearly 90,000 trout a year to stock local lakes. It also hatches about 275,000 steelhead for release into rivers.
The area has changed drastically since the hatchery opened, but the importance of fish to the region has remained a constant.
Region’s heritage and economy
The aquatic critters — and the economic and recreational activities that involve them — are a significant part of our Pacific Northwest heritage, said Guy Norman, regional director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, which operates the hatchery with about $285,000 in annual funding from Clark Public Utilities. Tens of thousands of anglers visit the county yearly to take advantage of the abundant supply of hatchery fish, he said, bringing an estimated $3 million to the local economy.