Adirondack Fish Hatchery, c. 1920, New York State Archives
The Adirondack Fish Hatchery is located near Saranac Inn Station, just south of Little Clear Pond, on the original route of New York Route 30, now the Fish Hatchery Road. It was one of nine hatcheries in the state. It was built in 1885, shown in a photo dated June 1899 by Chs. A. Balcom, which was published in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on April 15, 2000.
The Plattsburgh Republican, Saturday Morning July 18, 1908
STATE FISH HATCHERY.
The State fish hatchery at Saranac Inn has this spring turned out the greatest number of fish in its history. It is in charge of Milo Otis, who, together with a corps of assistants, has been busy for several weeks with the hatching of the fry and the shipment of fry and fingerlings to the waters of the state which are being restocked. The Saranac Inn Hatchery has produced 1,400,000 lake trout and 1,500,000 brook trout fry and fingerlings; 4,000,000 white fish and 400,000 frost fish. The brook and lake trout have been sent generally to all parts of the Adirondacks and in some instances shipments have been made to remote parts of the State. The white fish have been deposited in the waters of Hoel Pond, Lake Clear and Lake Placid. Several thousand trout fry remain at the hatchery. All applications have not been filled, however. Some of the handsomest fish in the hatchery are albino trout, several of which are five years of age. Two of these trout are lake trout and the others brook trout. All have been kept at the hatchery for experiments and some albino trout have been brought from Michigan with the object of propagating, if possible albino trout. The hatchery men have not succeeded in this, however. As a rule all albino trout fry and fingerlings die.
State Fish Hatchery At Saranac Inn Will Be Doubled in Size
Albany—Capacity of the Adirondack state fish hatchery at Saranac Inn will be doubled by the construction of 21 new concrete ponds, it was revealed by Conservation Commissioner Perry B. Duryea. When completed, the plant's annual production will be 1,500,000 trout of all sizes, totaling about 30,000 pounds.
Work by Contractor Howard A. LaRose of Lake George was begun last week. The ponds will use water piped independently from both the surface and bottom of Little Lake Clear so that temperatures in the ponds may be regulated in order to obtain optimum growth rate, the commissioner said.
Adirondack Fish Hatchery (undated) Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 3, 1993
War of words heats up in fish hatchery dispute
SARANAC INN, N.Y. (AP) — Charles Ritchie says there is more at stake in preserving Upper Saranac Lake than the gorgeous view from the deck of his lake front house.
"This is the headwaters of the Saranac chain, of the Saranac River and of Lake Champlain," Ritchie said Wednesday as chipmunks and red squirrels frolicked around the legs of his deck furniture. "If the Adirondack waters become degraded, the adverse economic impacts on the Adirondacks will be absolutely devastating. The Adirondacks are synonymous with pure water."
Talk of economic and environmental disaster seemed out of place as the Upper Saranac's waters lapped against the shore a few yards away. But Ritchie and other property owners on the lake say the Upper Saranac is being systematically polluted — by the same state agency that's supposed to be protecting New York's waters from contamination.
A group Ritchie heads, the Upper Saranac Lake Association, has sued the state Department of Environmental Conservation demanding that the DEC stop releasing wastewater from its Adirondack Fish Culture Station into Hatchery Brook, a stream that spills into the Upper Saranac.
The residents group contends that the discharges are laced with phosphorous from fish food and wastes, resulting in a nutrient imbalance in the Upper Saranac that's promoted the formation of algae blooms and robbed the lake's north basin of enough oxygen to allow trout to thrive.
The runoff has also clogged Hatchery Brook, once a popular trout stream, with weeds and algae, the group contends.
The state counters that other phosphorous sources around the lake have also contributed to Upper Saranac's problems. It says it is working to improve the quality of discharges from the hatchery, where the DEC grows baby Atlantic salmon for stocking in Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes.
Since 1989, when a slimy green algae bloom first appeared on Upper Saranac and stayed for nearly a year, the state and nearby residents have been at odds over the condition of the 8-square-mile lake.
Richard Handler, another property owner on the lake, said that first bloom was vivid illustration of their suspicion that something was going wrong in the Upper Saranac.
"It was like the local Chernobyl," he said. "It was something everyone could see. It was not laboratory-based. It was gross." The residents contend in their suit that the DEC did not follow its own procedures when it renewed a pollution discharge permit for the hatchery in November 1992.
Among other alleged violations by the DEC was its failure to perform an environmental impact study on the effects of its discharges in light of the algae bloom and of a shift from growing trout to growing salmon at the hatchery, the suit argues.
The suit is scheduled to be heard starting in August in state Supreme Court in Malone.
"They didn't have hearings about this. We didn't have the opportunity to discuss it," Ritchie said. "That's why we felt we had to litigate because there were no other remedies."
The DEC and the association did, in fact, try to reach a settlement out of court. But a state proposal to monitor hatchery emissions and phosphorous levels in the Upper Saranac for five years was rejected in May by the association, which wants discharges slashed and more waste treatment apparatus installed at the hatchery.
The state has argued that it's spent $500,000 between 1983 and 1991 on improving the hatchery's wastewater treatment system. The phosphorous content of food fed to the Atlantic salmon at the hatchery has been reduced by about a quarter since 1990 and the state wants to cut it by another quarter, according to the DEC's executive deputy commissioner, Langdon Marsh.
The state acknowledges, too, that the Upper Saranac is a fragile lake. It has listed the lake for years as a "problem" in need of close watch. But it blames the cumulative effects of development, including leaking septic systems, and runoff from a nearby farm and golf course, for also contributing to the problem.
"DEC believes that a hatchery that has been there for more than a century should not become the scapegoat for cumulative impacts of other development," Marsh said.
A study conducted for the association and Paul Smith's College shows a more direct link between activities at the hatchery and the presence of algae-inducing nutrients in the lake.
Curt Stager, an associate professor of biology at Paul Smith's, said distinct layers of the lake floor were examined and dated on a year-by-year basis. That study showed that nutrients surged beginning in 1953, when the hatchery began operating full time.
"I've become convinced by the data that there's nothing else that could have caused this big shift in this time except the hatchery," Stager said.
Other studies conducted through Paul Smith's have shown that oxygen needed by trout in the north basin of Upper Saranac has all but disappeared due to the surplus of nutrients, said Michael R. Martin, executive director of the Adirondack Aquatic Institute at Paul Smith's.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, October 4-5, 1997
Draft report released concerning Upper Saranac
By THOMAS ABELLO Enterprise Staff Writer
UPPER SARANAC LAKE - Following the release of a report detailing the water quality of the Upper Saranac Lake, the Adirondack Aquatic Institute and the DEC have differing views of the role a state-owned fish hatchery played in a 1990 algae bloom on the lake.
Michael Martin, USLA lake manager and director of the Adirondack Aquatic Institute, indicated the results of the study concluded the water quality of the Upper Saranac for 1995 to 1996 is appropriate and has remained stable. However, the study could not address the water quality at the time of the bloom in 1990.
The purpose of the study, said Martin, was to identify all of the nutrients entering the lake over a 18-month period. Although the phosphorus level in the lake has remained stable, manmade nutrients continue to enter the lake through septic systems and the fish hatchery. But the study concluded that the fish hatchery represents only 4 percent of the annual phosphorus load into the lake.
Martin asserts nutrients dumped into the lake by the hatchery since 1952 led to decline of the water quality of the lake, causing the bloom in 1990. He added the 4 percent is misleading as the hatchery discharges the majority of its nutrients in the summer and taper off in the winter months.
"It was a significant contributing factor to the bloom," concluded Martin.
Jim Sutherland, Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Water biologist, noted that the report was still in the draft form and that would be difficult to ascertain the exact cause of the 1990 bloom. He said there were initial assumptions that construction at the fish hatchery caused the bloom but there has been not proof to the theory
Sutherland indicated that probable cause of the bloom was a natural sequence of events ignited by a large spring runoff.
"My impression is that there has been a trend for improvement of the water quality at the lake since the bloom," said Sutherland.
In July 1990, an algae bloom on the lake turned the water pea green causing shore owners to investigate the source of the phosphates which feed the water and threatened water quality.
Water quality tests by the institute fingered the Adirondack Fish Hatchery as the prime source of the bloom, and the members of the Upper Saranac Lake Association sued in 1993, alleging the hatchery was operating under an improperly granted permit. The suit sought the closure of the hatchery.
The suit is still pending, according to Martin. He stated the USLA would drop its suit if the DEC built a treatment center at the fish hatchery which would cut the discharge of nutrients by 50 percent. The cost of the treatment center is $60,000.
In regard to the suit, Sutherland said the DEC has fulfilled the requests of the USLA and added that he could not speculate on the litigation further.