KERNVILLE (AP) — California wildlife authorities say new facilities built at the state’s Kern River Hatchery will allow breeding of Kern River rainbow trout that will be planted throughout the Kern River Basin.
The program will allow the territory to be stocked with its native fish rather than domesticated strains.
“The goal is to not only provide fishing opportunity but help with the restocking of a native strain of rainbow trout to native watersheds,” hatchery manager Tony Holland said in a Department of Fish and Wildlife statement. “This twofold operation has the potential to increase natural reproduction while providing continued angling opportunity.”
The Kern River rainbow trout is one of 12 subspecies of trout native to California. Overfishing, loss of habitat and breeding with non-native trout has greatly reduced the population of true Kern River rainbow trout, which is a candidate species for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Biologists plan to collect 50 to 100 mature Kern River rainbow trout from the Sequoia National Forest backcountry this summer to serve as brood stock for the program.
Genetic samples will be taken to produce the best offspring at the hatchery, located at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada, a three-hour drive north of Los Angeles.
The program is being enabled by new facilities including wells to provide cool, year-round groundwater to overcome the problem of warm summer water temperatures that historically prevented the hatchery from fully operating.
The hatchery, established in 1928 and open to the public, will continue to serve as a holding facility for rainbow trout reared elsewhere as well as a base for stocking waters from nearby Bakersfield to the High Sierra, the department said.