Under the leadership of Project Leader Kurt Eversman, Valley City’s National Fish Hatchery on River Road is working to become a destination along the Sheyenne River.
Activities already going strong on the fish hatchery grounds include bird watching, a fishing pond signed for people 16 or under, but “anybody can come and fish,” and gravel roads throughout the property.
Said Eversman, “quite a few people walk the perimeters of roads”looking for wildlife, fish, and the river.
The hatchery grounds also includes the Pomeroy boat launch area for people to return or take off in canoes, and picnicking at the Pomeroy recreational area. Both areas are on the site of the original Pomeroy farmstead, where former U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy grew up.
People are also welcome to walk the site on snow shoes during the winter months, Eversman said.
Eversman said he is working on putting together an informational brochure on things to do on the fish hatchery property, “and the office is complete with a visitors center.”
Eversman said guests to the visitors center can see displays of fish and wildlife, including being able to get a look at fish and wildlife skins, skulls, and tracks.
Planned for the near future but kind of tied up at the moment is a rehabilitation of the kids’ fishing pond. Eversman said he has discovered the pond area is listed as a historic site, meaning research must be done before any changes are made. “I’t’s being held up until they do a survey.” Eversman said funding for the improvements has already been approved, and work will include a new deck for fishing.
Also planned is much work at the Pomeroy boat launch area and recreational area, including a guided nature trail, bird and duck boxes, and native grass plots, likely in 20 by 30-foot configurations. “It will be a neat deal.”
Eversman said he also has approval to hire four Youth Conservation Camp students, aged 15 to 18 for eight week periods this coming summer.
Students in the program will generally work 40 hours per week. They will likely be involved in activities including fish
“They will be exposed to things happening at the hatchery. I want to expand their minds working on (wildlife) refuges and with Valley City State University professors. I don’t want young people to just whip weeds.”
Eversman said he has done little publicizing of his seeking youths to do paid work with the Youth Conservation Corps. “I’ve only given out a flyer to the Valley City High School guidance counselor.”
Eversman said he would also like to get parents of students interested, who can encourage young people to participate. “There’s nothing wrong with bagging groceries,” but work with the hatchery through the Corps can help young people learn about a possible future career while earning minimum wage.
“Last year we had a Valley City student who was heavily involved with sports, and I wads able to be flexible with his schedule,” Eversman said.
In recent years relatively few youths have been involved with the Corps at the fish hatchery, although when the Corps was first used at the fish hatchery in 1976 the youth program had 30 young people enrolled.
Eversman believes the program has dwindled “because people didn’t want to supervise it.” He said he is committed to making it successful.
The Youth Conservation Corps is a summer employment program, established by Public Law 93-408, for young men and women between the ages of 15 through 18. The program is administered by the Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Enrollment periods typically last for eight weeks, depending upon the regional academic calendars, and the enrollees normally work a 40-hour week. Projects may include trail building, improving wildlife habitat, posting boundary signs, invasive plant control, bird banding, simple construction, office work and general maintenance activities as needed.
Applicants are selected through a random process. No prior experience is necessary to apply. Enrollees must have parental or guardian consent to enroll in the program. Applications must be submitted to the Valley City National Fish Hatchery by April 15.
The purpose of the YCC program is to:
*Accomplish needed conservation work on public lands.
*Provide meaningful employment for youth of all social, economic, ethnic and racial backgrounds.
*To provide youth an opportunity to comprehend and appreciate the natural environment and our precious resources.
Said Eversman, “it (the Corps) is a great opportunity to learn about the field, and learn a little extra money – we will need a lot of help in the wetlands area this spring.”