Valley City State University students and local Boy Scouts are both helping upgrade the Valley City National Fish Hatchery and make it a more welcoming place for the public, said fish hatchery manager Kurt Eversman.
“It’s kind of taken off at the Pomeroy farmstead,” an area the hatchery has set aside for public use including picnicking and nature watching, Eversman said.
Eversman plans to make the old farm site into the Outdoor Wildlife Learning Site (OWLS) originally envisioned for the location.
Tuesday Eversman said, “We’re looking at defining the space” between a picnic area and a wetlands and nature observation area.
Eversman said the north end of the site will include an information kiosk with listings “of critters to look for. To the south we will enhance the existing structure target area to grow native grasses, trees, shrubs and flowers.”
A split rail fence will be built behind the gravel parking lot to help separate the picnic area from the rest of the site, Eversman said.
Eversman said the plan is to cut a grass trail around the wetlands area, “set up a couple of benches and signage at various points.”
Eversman and volunteers have removed “some trees that were safety hazards,” and knocked down cattails to slow their growth to give other natural wetland plants a toehold for growing.
Eversman said VCSU biology students have been helping cut down non-native trees at the Pomeroy site to make it easier to see the Sheyenne River as it meanders through the location along with birds and other wildlife.
Students in VCSU Professor Casey Williams conservation classes have also helped apply for a grant set aside for connecting kids with nature. “They wrote the grant,” Eversman said.
As of Tuesday, Eversman said the grant Williams prepared and submitted to fish and wildlife is for a project connecting “kids and nature.” I just heard from the committee, and it (chances for grant approval) are very positive. The project ranked highly, and I’ve been asked if the project could be expanded with the possibility of more funding available.
VCSU students are also interested in installing a foundation for a pollinator garden. “I told the kids to do a sketch and take it to Star Enterprises,” Eversman said.
The pollinator garden would surround the Pomoeroy memorial bench near a current hedgerow and treeline. “It will be planted in native flowering plants” and those sitting will be able to watch butterflies, bees, and other pollinating insects doing their jobs.
“I am trying to involve the community,” Eversman said, such as seeing if Pine Country Nurseries can be the source for some of the plants.
“The more players – the more folks we can get involved – the more ammunition” Eversman feels he will have in his efforts to improve the fish hatchery grounds and turn it into a public destination.
Eversman also said he has been discussing with local Boy Scouts about possibly working at the fish hatchery. “I’ve learned Boy Scouts need community service projects,” which the fish hatchery needs.
“Kurt Eversman met with the Boy Scouts, and it sounded like he was making us a pretty fantastic offer,” said Valley City Scoutmaster Fred Mitzel Monday.
Mitzel said Eversman is offering Scouts space for meeting, space for camping and space for projects – he even has storage space – it is an intriguing offer,” Mitzel said.