Groundbreaking begins construction phase of renovation project at MDC's Bennett Spring Hatchery

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LEBANON, Mo. – With a few shovelfuls of dirt, the plans for improved trout production at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Bennett Spring Hatchery took a major step closer to becoming reality.

On Wednesday, Aug 2, MDC staff joined state legislators and local officials for a groundbreaking ceremony that kicked off the construction phase of Bennett Spring Hatchery’s renovation project. The fish hatchery supplies trout for fishing at Bennett Spring State Park and some other trout-fishing locations around the state.

“The renovations taking place here at Bennett Spring Hatchery shows the Missouri Department of Conservation has a strong commitment to our citizens’ appreciation for the outdoors,” said MDC Deputy Director Jennifer Battson Warren. “The joy of catching trout at Bennett Spring is an experience that has made wonderful memories for generations of Missouri families. This project will ensure that these memories will continue to be made here at Bennett Spring and other places that receive trout from this hatchery.”

Cahills Construction Inc. of Rolla is the contractor awarded for this multi-year $40 million renovation to the hatchery that includes a new intake structure, reconstruction of raceways, water quality improvements, as well as other upgrades and refurbishments that will improve fish production capability and site resiliency. MDC has worked with closely with its design consultant, HDR, Inc., over the past year and a half to get this project ready for construction.

The construction will disrupt fish production at the Bennett Spring Hatchery and visitors will notice some of the raceways will be empty and dry. However, fishing will continue at the park with minimal disturbance as trout from MDC’s other hatcheries will be transported to Bennett to support stocking activities throughout the year.

It should be noted, that 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 statewide 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 for the remainder of 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. Each year, 140,000 people fish at Bennett Spring. These anglers 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. is significant. Data from the U.S. Fish & 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.