New fish hatchery coming to Jasper County

JASPER COUNTY, TX (KTRE) -East Texas is getting a very big boost to the local fishing economy.

"Today thanks to the fisherman of Texas, we are starting a new hatchery that will allow us to double the production of bass, catfish and blue gill that we will stock in lakes in East Texas and across Texas," says Texas Parks and Wildlife's Executive Director, Carter Smith.

The new East Texas Fish Hatchery is located in Jasper County below Sam Rayburn Lake.

The construction project, which has already started, will cost about $27 million by the time it's complete in 2010.

"This has been in the making for 8 years. We've been planning and thinking about it and thanks to the legislature in 2003, they authorized a fresh water fishing stamp.  Now every fisherman in Texas has contributed to this project because when they get their fishing license, those funds are dedicated to see this hatchery through to fruition," says Smith.

The hatchery will include 65 ponds on 200 acres.

Peter Holt, who is the Parks and Wildlife Commission Chairman, says it will be a world-class facility.

"Fish that come out of here, 4 million plus fingerlings, will be scattered throughout the state," not just here in East Texas.

"For Texas Parks and Wildlife and the constituents, which are primarily the fisherman, it's going to double our capacity to stock the lakes and rivers of the state of Texas," says Holt, which we need because fish aren't producing enough on their own to support the pressures we are putting on lakes and rivers relative to the growing human population.

The current Jasper Hatchery is 70 years old and will close when the new one opens in about two years.

The new one will be double the size and serve the 191,000 miles of rivers and streams, together totaling 1.7 million acres of water we have in Texas.  Along the way, it will bring $2.9 billion in total expenditures to support local, regional and statewide economies, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife figures.