DNR hatchery sets gold standard for water quality management

After Michigan’s salmon program kicked off in the 1960s, Platte River State Fish Hatchery in Beulah was quickly labeled as the primary Pacific salmon hatchery for the state. With the wild success of the salmon fishery in the Great Lakes, production ramped up swiftly with more than 5 million Chinook salmon and about 3 million Coho salmon getting pushed out the door each year in the 1970s. But just like any other large-scale production effort – there were drawbacks to this growth.

To put it bluntly, all those fish created a lot of waste. Poop to be precise. When production really took off, not a lot of attention was given to what was happening to that waste after it left the facility. Unfortunately it had to go somewhere – which included Platte Lake, downstream from the hatchery.

Understandably so, residents of Platte Lake were concerned. They organized as a collective unit (the Platte Lake Improvement Association) and eventually filed suit against the Department of Natural Resources in circuit court in 1986 claiming the actions at Platte River State Fish Hatchery were impairing the resource.

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