Unique project underway at Decorah Fish Hatchery - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Unique project underway at Decorah Fish Hatchery

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DECORAH (KWWL) -

The Decorah Fish Hatchery opened in 1933. Then in 1989, it was renovated by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources into what it is today.

It currently raises rainbow and brook trout for four northeast Iowa counties.

"We stock about 125,000 trout in those four streams from April through October," said Brian Malaise with the Iowa DNR.

The fish hatchery is a destination point in northeast Iowa -- especially since it's located right across the street from the famous Decorah eagle cam.

"The hatchery is open dawn to dusk. It's a great place to bring kids. My best phrase is everybody likes to feed fish whether you're four or 40," said Malaise.

It costs 25 cents for a handful of food, but these feeders almost went away. When told to get rid of the feeders, Brian Malaise helped form a group called Friends of the Decorah Fish Hatchery to save the feeders.

"The feeders here before the eagle's nest generated about $8,000 to $10,000 dollars a year," he said.

To avoid losing that revenue, the group helped save the feeders. Then Malaise offered up another project for the group, an educational center and restroom facility to update the current 1930s outhouse. The new building is already under construction.

What's unique about this project is most of the money is being raised through private donations through the Friends of the Decorah Fish Hatchery.

Once it's finished, the group plans to give it to the DNR.

"It's the only one I know of in the state that's been done this way. It's a gift, not only to the DNR, but to the state and the residents of Decorah and everyone who can use the facility," said Randy Iverson with Friends of the Decorah Fish Hatchery.

The total cost of just the building is about $289,000 dollars. The group still needs about $70,000 but recently got a boost thanks to JP Morgan Chase Bank.

"They were giving away $3 million to non profits in the U.S. if voted on by facebook," said Malaise.

After two weeks of voting, the project placed 43rd, winning $25,000.

The new education center and restrooms should be finished in early February with a grand opening in the spring.

To learn more about the project or make a donation, click here.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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