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For Release: Friday, September 23, 2011

DEC Holds Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Rome Fish Hatchery

Renovations Renew State's 2nd Largest Hatchery, Enhance Visitors' Experience

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today held a ceremonial ribbon cutting at the Rome Fish Hatchery in Oneida County, hailing the renovation of one of the state's largest and most productive hatcheries.

"Our hatcheries serve as facilities for rearing fish, but also as a place for the public to interact with DEC staff and learn more about our diverse natural resources," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "The renovation of the Rome Fish Hatchery provides a state-of-the-art facility and a new visitors' center to help enhance the hatchery's operations as well as the experiences of the many people who come to see our staff and fish each year."

Located just north of the city of Rome, the hatchery was built on the old Black River Canal bed and was acquired by the state in 1932. The hatchery was taken down in 2009, and the new building was completed this year. The old building was actually three structures - a hatchery, a refrigerated storage and an additional building added to connect the two, giving the appearance of one large building. Refrigerated storage of feed is no longer needed. The old structure would have cost too much to repair and was not designed to meet modern fish culture needs.

The new state-of-the-art, energy-efficient building houses an early fish rearing area "hatch house", a visitors' center, offices, a conference room, a workshop and storage areas. In 2008, as part of several measures to improve hatchery operations, DEC enclosed four series of raceways at the Rome hatchery to reduce fish losses from bird predators. The hatchery's annual production, totaling nearly 160,000 pounds of brook, rainbow and brown trout, will be handily accomplished in the new facilities.

One feature of the new Rome Fish Hatchery is a small visitors' center that will provide information about the fish, as well as opportunities to see the various life stages of fish raised at the hatchery. The facility, like other DEC hatcheries across the state, hosts many school groups, community groups and other visitors looking for insight into the biology and logistics of raising fish. The new visitors' center is expected to house an aquarium and educational materials for the public to enjoy.

Senator Joseph Griffo said, "The Rome Fish Hatchery is an important part of our State's world class fishing and has been a wonderful place for so many people, especially school children, to learn about the environment and to be introduced to outdoor sports. The renovation project that has been completed will make this local institution accessible to even more people in the years -- and generations -- to come."

Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi said, "This new state-of-the-art facility will help the Rome Fish Hatchery improve operations and provide a valuable service not just to the region but to the state. This facility will provide educational opportunities to our children while also helping drive tourism dollars to our state. These are exactly the types of local projects New York should be investing in to get people back to work and keep Mohawk Valley moving in the right direction."

DEC operates 12 hatcheries, each specializing in raising one or more fish species. Every year, the hatcheries release more than one million pounds of fish into more than 1,000 lakes, ponds, streams and rivers across New York. Fish are stocked for two main purposes: to restore native species and to enhance public fishing.

The Rome hatchery is one of DEC's largest and supplies fish for more than 350 public waterways in an 11-county area. Hatchery personnel travel to deliver fish to designated stocking sites and play a major role in providing fish for airplane and helicopter travel to stock remote waters.

County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr. said, "The Rome Fish Hatchery has long been an important way that the people of Oneida County are able to learn about the environment and the great outdoors. At a time when we need to help our young people learn more about the environment, the new buildings and the new visitor's center will help schools and families increase their understanding of the importance of protecting the environment, and also introduce them to the sport of fishing. The Adirondacks and the outdoors are large parts of our region's great quality of life. I want to thank the DEC for this investment in the Rome Fish Hatchery so that more people can experience a blend of education and enjoyment."

Rome Mayor James Brown said, "We are grateful to Governor Cuomo and state representatives today for their efforts and commitment to the Rome Fish Hatchery Project. A special thanks to Commissioner Joe Martens and Regional Director Judy Drabicki for their work and detail in the completion of this project and the significant impact it will have on our City and our region."

According to DEC's most recent survey, anglers spent an estimated 18.7 million days fishing New York's freshwaters in 2007. New York's resident and non-resident anglers collectively spent an estimated $331 million at fishing sites, and an estimated $202 million en route to fishing sites. More information about DEC fish hatcheries can be found at the FAQ page and at the fish hatchery main page.

DEC's staff from the Division of Operations in the Design and Construction unit designed the Rome Fish Hatchery and coordinated the project overall. Construction was accomplished through local contractors from Whitesboro, Utica and Oswego. $2.1 million were used to pay for the new facilities, approximately $890,000 was spent from Capital Funds, the remainder was from the 2006 Economic Development Fund allocation for Fish Hatchery Development.

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