Grayling Fish Hatchery, Inc. plans for gradual opening as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
The Grayling Fish Hatchery will not be open as it has been traditionally for the Memorial Day weekend due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Anglers of the Au Sable and Crawford County have an agreement to operate the historic facility and tourist attraction.
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners held a virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 13, when it was given an update regarding the fish hatchery.
Josh Greenberg, the president of the Grayling Fish Hatchery, Inc., said water levels have been brought up in the raceways to accommodate fish. The fish are expected to be delivered this week.
“The pieces are in place for us to open because I think we’ll anticipate a gradual opening,” Greenberg said.
The county board passed a motion to allow the hatchery to open Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and on Monday when there is a holiday.
They also approved doing away with admission fees in favor of donations to enter and tour the historic facility and to fish for trout.
School groups and other groups will be allowed to tour the hatchery one day during the week through scheduled appointments.
“It’s still too early to know how we’re going to do that,” Greenberg said.
In addition, a trout cam, similar to eagle cams located in other communities, will be installed near the dam by the East Branch of the AuSable River down from the hatchery.
Greenberg said there are a lot of wild trout that swim through that area.
The cam will be linked to web pages used by the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce, Grayling Visitor’s Bureau, and other businesses.
Greenberg said that having the virtual experience will pay dividends as anticipation builds up for the hatchery to open to the public.
“Grayling people and people from other communities will be able to watch the trout,” he said.
A Lake Superior State University student will be working at the hatchery and doing research this summer.
“They’re very excited about having a student go there,” said Joe Hemming, the president of Anglers of the Au Sable. “She’s excited and she has some great ideas for the hatchery.”
Hemming said the changes in how the hatchery operates make more sense as the community still deals and plans for the COVID-19 virus.
Effective January 1, 2019 the lease held by the Harrietta Hills Trout Farm, LLC, a Michigan limited liability company, was transferred to the Anglers of the Au Sable, a Michigan nonprofit corporation.
The agreement ended a four-year legal battle over plans to establish a fish farming operation at the hatchery.
The Anglers of the Au Sable paid the Harrietta Hills Trout Farm, LLC $160,000 to walk away from the operation.
Hemming said 5,100 people visited the hatchery last year.