Contract approval moves Bennett Spring Hatchery renovation into construction phase

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LEBANON, Mo. – On Friday (May 19), the Missouri Conservation Commission showed it is committed to the future of trout fishing in the Show-Me State.

By unanimous vote, the Commission approved Cahills Construction Inc. of Rolla to be the contractor for a multi-year renovation of the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Bennett Spring Hatchery. The hatchery supplies the trout for one of the state’s highly popular fishing destinations – trout fishing at Bennett Spring State Park.

“Outdoor recreation has a huge economic impact for the state of Missouri and Bennett Spring Hatchery has played a critical role in raising fish for anglers for more than 100 years,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “This investment by our Conservation Commissioners to renovate these aging buildings and equipment shows their commitment to connecting people of all ages to nature for years to come.”

Hatchery improvements that are part of this $40 million renovation project include a new intake structure, reconstruction of some raceways, piping improvements, and other upgrades that will allow the hatchery to better maintain operations during flooding events and will improve fish production capability. Improvements will also be made to the MDC hatchery office, the shop, and feed storage facilities.

During this multi-year project, fish production at the Bennett Spring Hatchery will be disrupted and visitors will notice some of the raceways empty and dry while construction activities are taking place. However, fishing will continue at the park with minimal disruption as trout from MDC’s other hatcheries will be transported to Bennett to support stocking activities throughout the year.

A facility the size of Bennett Spring Hatchery, which produces approximately 350,000 trout per year, cannot be taken out of production without impacting the trout inventory numbers in MDC’s cold-water hatchery system. Hatchery staff across the state will be working to manage inventory levels and provide anglers with the best possible angling experience this year and throughout the renovation of Bennett Spring Hatchery.

In addition to providing recreational activity, the trout produced at the Bennett Spring Hatchery also provide economic benefits. Consider the 140,000 people who fish at Bennett Spring each year, which are part of the more than two million visitors the park gets annually, and the economic ripple effect all this activity generates in terms of money spent on meals, lodging, gas, etc. Data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicates that money spent on trout fishing in Missouri generates more than $187 million in economic impact each year.

Trout fishing at Bennett Spring has a history dating back to the early 1900s. Currently, MDC manages the hatchery and trout fishing at Bennett Spring State Park. The state park facilities are managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.