Crystal Springs Hatchery
Raising trout to restore native populations and increase fishing opportunities in Southeast Minnesota, Lake Superior and many other areas of the state.
Originally a farm, Crystal Springs was purchased in 1932 for $ 15,000 by the Division of Fish & Wildlife. It was the first tract of land purchased of the 27,000 acre Whitewater Wildlife Management Area. The Izaak Walton League played a key role in providing local support for the effort to protect the Whitewater Valley. The fish rearing raceways were built from hand carved limestone rock by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It took seven years to complete. Trout production started in 1941. The raceways were covered in the 1950's to keep out sunlight, debris and predatory birds. By 1980 the original limestone raceways had badly deteriorated. The Fisheries Construction Crew then renovated the raceways, ponds and dikes. Additional improvements were made in the 1990's that included a new hatchery and expanded rearing space for juvenile trout. Local Sentence to Serve crews were instrumental in repairing the last of the original limestone raceways (Raceway #12) which now holds brook trout and is open for public viewing.
CRYSTAL SPRINGS WATER
Two artesian springs deliver water to the hatchery. So where does the spring water come from? The glaciers that covered and flattened most of Minnesota 10,000 years ago didn't reach this part of the state. However, the melting waters from the glaciers did. The melt water scoured 300' deep valleys that exposed bedrock. Cracks in this bedrock began to release water that was stored in the ground (called aquifers). The result is artesian springs and trout streams. The two springs that provide constant 48 degree water to the hatchery. Combined, they deliver approximately 2,000 gallons of water per minute.
A trout hatchery is just one of a number of tools available to trout fisheries managers. Most trout hatcheries were built to mitigate for a decision or actions that caused natural processes to be altered, interrupted, or accelerated. Stocking tends to be the first management technique employed when a fishery is depleted. It can provide some instant but temporary relief to a collapsed fishery but stocking does not solve problems such as poor habitat and degraded water quality. In fact, no state or federal agency can fix these things. It will take the co-operative effort of all the residents in the state of Minnesota
From the 1940's through the 1960's, Crystal Springs raised catchable size Brown and Rainbow Trout for "put and take" stocking in the Whitewater area streams. The end of the 1960's saw water quality and trout habitat improvements, along with natural reproduction of Brown Trout in many of the local streams. These improvements were due mainly to the application of best soil management practices (bmp's) by farmers in the Whitewater Watershed.
Currently Crystal Springs raises Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, Lake Trout and Splake totaling approximately 45,000 pounds of fish stocked annually. About half of the total is comprised of Brook and Rainbow Trout that are stocked in SE MN. The Brook trout are native fish from wild stock and are used to establish self-sustaining populations. The Rainbow trout are stocked in high use areas where they are readily available to anglers. The Splake are transported to lakes in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota and the Lake trout, sometimes called "red fins" are stocked into Lake Superior.
TOURS & VISITS
With advanced scheduling we give tours to schools, scouts, clubs etc. This allows us to reach a large number of visitors (1,500 annually) with our limited staff. Our tours are educational and informational in nature and may be customized for the group. Tours are given Monday - Friday between 7:00 AM and 3:30 PM. Phone: 507-796-8000.
We are generally unable to give tours to drop-in visitors, but will accommodate as time permits. The visitor center is our means of providing an educational experience for everyone and we continue to make additions and improvements to the displays.