In 1982, local hunting and fishing clubs formed the Downeast Salmon Federation (DSF) with the shared goal of ensuring the long-term health of wild salmon populations in Downeast Maine. DSF served as a united voice to encourage sound management practices to protect natural resources. However, seven years after its inception, salmon populations continued to decline. DSF realized that more active and improved management on the part of state and federal governments was needed to secure the salmon’s survival. In addition, DSF discovered that real community involvement was essential for lasting restoration and preservation to occur.
In 1989, DSF saw the potential to turn a problem into a solution. The problem was the Pleasant River Hydroelectric Company’s dam and poorly functioning fishway. The dam had been excluding Atlantic salmon from ascending the Pleasant River to spawn for years and the population was dwindling. The solution was to facilitate removing the dam and then turn the site into an education center and hatchery. With a lot of grant writing, hard work, donations of time and materials, and dedication of many members of the community, the DSF’s fisheries center and Pleasant River Fish Hatchery were born. The Pleasant River Hatchery is located on the Pleasant River in Columbia Falls.
In January of 1991 the first batch of 100,000 salmon eggs was transferred from Green Lake National Fish Hatchery to the Pleasant River Fish Hatchery, where they were incubated until they were stocked in May. With help from student and community volunteers, the hatchery has incubated salmon or trout eggs between January and May for over 20 years. Each winter, students and the general public are invited to come to the hatchery and learn about Atlantic salmon, hatchery operations, and see baby salmon first-hand. In May, when the river and salmon are ready, hatchery staff, along with students of all ages, community volunteers, and agency staff, work together to stock the river specific salmon fry into appropriate habitat in the river of their origin. While the DSF advocates for self-sustaining runs of wild Atlantic salmon, and looks forward to the day when hatcheries are no longer needed, we believe that the small scale hatchery has tremendous educational value and is an essential part of wild salmon restoration.
The Pleasant River Hatchery is open to the public. For more information contact DSF at (207)483-4336 or email us.