Niagara Springs Fish Hatchery
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Niagara Springs Hatchery is located in the Snake River Canyon 10 miles south of Wendell, Idaho. From Interstate 84, take exit 157 and head south towards the Snake River. Follow the signs for Niagara Springs State Park into the canyon and watch for the hatchery entrance road.
Niagara Springs Hatchery is owned and financed by Idaho Power Company, and operated and staffed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. With a capacity to rear nearly two million steelhead smolts annually, it is one of America’s largest privately-owned steelhead rearing facilities.
Niagara Springs Hatchery was built in 1966 as a rearing facility for steelhead. In 2013, Idaho Power completed a two-year renovation of the hatchery. The project included construction of a 23,000-square-foot hatchery building, a modern water filtration system, an improved feeding apparatus and predator exclusion equipment. The new hatchery building includes an observation room that allows visitors to get a good look at the indoor rearing operation.
Niagara Springs Hatchery is named after the spring that serves as its water source. The water is clean, clear and, most importantly, warmer than the water in which naturally-spawned steelhead grow up. The spring water creates the ideal environment for the fish to achieve the equivalent of two years’ growth in just one year.
Each April and May, eggs from adult steelhead spawned by crews at Idaho Power hatcheries in the Snake and Salmon river basins are delivered to Niagara Springs Hatchery to begin the rearing cycle. Fish are initially reared indoors and then finish their rearing cycle outdoors in concrete raceways. In March, crews begin hauling the year-old fish back to Hells Canyon and the Pahsimeroi River, where they will begin a journey of more than 500 miles to the ocean. The spring fish haul takes about six weeks to complete.
Niagara Springs Hatchery has proven to be a tremendous asset in the rearing of steelhead. In the wild, less than 5 percent of the eggs hatch and survive to migrate to the ocean. At Niagara Springs Hatchery, more than 80 percent of the eggs received from Pahsimeroi and Oxbow hatcheries survive to make their ocean journey.
Visiting hours are 7 a.m. -- 3:30 p.m., seven days a week. If you would like a tour of the facility, please stop by for a visit. If you have a large group of people, please provide advance notice by calling the hatchery at 208-536-2283. Visitors can also spend time at a two-acre park adjacent to Niagara Springs Creek that is owned by Idaho Power and includes a restroom, picnic tables, barbecue grills and refuse containers.