By Katherine Schake
If you’ve driven to Seward, you’ve driven past the Trail Lakes Hatchery near Moose Pass. But have you ever stopped to check it out? Next time, you might want to drop in and discover their newly enhanced visitor center. Thanks to a recent grant from the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm (KMTA) National Heritage Area (NHA), a new video system has been installed to show short educational films on demand. Throughout the year, Trail Lakes Hatchery entertains thousands of visitors from around the globe.
“The video system has opened up an avenue for us as hatchery employees to share our passion for salmon with anyone who has a few moments,” stated Kristin Bates, Trail Lakes Hatchery Manager, “As the videos, pictures and words flow across the screen, the faces of visitors gleam with pure amazement as they discover that raising fish is an art which all of Alaska’s waters support.”
Constructed in 1982 and operated by the State of Alaska until 1988, the Trail Lakes Hatchery has been operated by Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association (CIAA) ever since. Still owned by the State of Alaska, the hatchery is permitted to incubate 30 million sockeye, 6 million coho, and 4 million chinook salmon eggs – although, no Chinook are currently raised at the site. It is a rearing facility only, meaning no returns or releases occur directly at the hatchery. Salmon are released in Resurrection Bay, Bear Lake, Bear Creek, and other areas of the Kenai Peninsula and Susitna Watershed.
Successfully installed in November, the new television monitor and sound system provide visitors with information on CIAA’s hatchery and weir operations, their activities to improve and protect salmon habitat, and how to keep the region’s salmon populations healthy. In addition, the self-guided visitor center includes interpretation displays and handouts, along with a view into raceways where sockeye and coho are raised at specific times of year for Resurrection Bay.
Trail Lakes Hatchery is the only salmon hatchery in the Seward area. Next time you drive through Moose Pass, stop by for a self-guided tour of the visitor center. If you desire a guided tour of the facilities and the Bear Creek Weir, contact the hatchery in advance: 907-283-5761
KMTA funds local projects that recognize, preserve, and interpret the historic, scenic, and natural recreational resources and cultural landscapes of the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm historic transportation corridor. KMTA National Heritage Area is one of 49 designated Heritage Areas in the country. National Heritage Areas play a vital role in maintaining both the physical character and the cultural legacy of the United States. Learn more at www.kmtacorridor.org