Fish Hatchery Sits Closed, Feeling Impact of Government Shutdown - Northern Michigan's News Leader

Fish Hatchery Sits Closed, Feeling Impact of Government Shutdown

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The shutdown continues to impact northern Michigan.

The Jordan River National Fish Hatchery in Antrim County furloughed most workers and closed 10 days ago.

It won't reopen until the shutdown is over.

The hatchery manager told 9 & 10 News he has had to turn away hundreds of would-be visitors over the past two weeks.

It's not only disappointing for him, but for many who have driven from far away.

"This is probably our busiest weekend, we would expect over 1,000 people on the facility that's had to be canceled," says hatchery manager Roger Gordon.

The annual fall fest, field trips, and visits from tourists - all brought to a halt because of the government shutdown, and it comes at the worst time.

"This is our busiest time of year."

The door to the Visitor Center sits padlocked for the first time in 50 years, as seven of the hatchery's nine employees wait to come back to work.

"We kept two full-time people on staff, unpaid- myself and the assistant manager are here, just to take care of the fish and to protect the government property," explains Gordon.

With more than 2 million fish to take care of, it's not an easy task for just two. 

"You have to make choices as to what's going to get done, what's not going to get done. We prioritize for the health of the fish, safety of the public, and of course our safety and we do the things that we can get done during the work day," says Gordon.

An upcoming distribution of 100,000 thousand fish into Lake Michigan may also have to wait, unless the shutdown ends.

"It looks like it's probably going to get pushed back, if that's not pushed back too far we'll be okay, if it's delayed for too long we're going to have to put our thinking caps on and figure out what we're going to do as far as space concerns and that."

For now, the fish have enough food, and remain healthy, and all they can do is take things day by day.

"As long as they don't turn the power off, we're all set."

Two other federally run hatcheries in the Upper Peninsula also remain closed due to the shutdown.