After a year of tour cutbacks due to the federal budget shortfall, the fish hatchery at Lake Sonoma is back to full-time business this year, welcoming school groups and the general public for free guided tours Monday through Friday, the nonprofit Friends of Lake Sonoma announced last week.
Facility tours started Wednesday at the Don Clausen Fish Hatchery at Warm Springs Dam, in time for the annual four-month run of steelhead trout, according to the nonprofit group, which took over staffing the tours last year.
About 4,000 school kids from Sonoma County and the North Bay typically visit the facility each year to learn about the life cycles of local fish species and efforts to sustain future generations of salmon and steelhead trout. Visitors also can see spawning fish leaping upstream to return to the hatchery to reproduce and can feed young steelhead in the hatchery, organizers said.
“Some of the fish have traveled as far as 5,000 miles on a three-year journey to return here,” said Linda Clapp, a retired Army Corps of Engineers park ranger who runs the tour program, in a news release. “It’s quite a spectacle.”
Tours were limited to two days a week last year because of cutbacks in operation of the visitors center, which is run by the Army Corps of Engineers, said Jane Young, executive director of the Friends group.
This year, guided tours can be scheduled five days a week — and not just for kids, she said. Self-guided tours also are available seven days a week through the Milt Brandt Visitor Center.
Those interested in guided weekday tours can call the visitor center at 431-4533 for scheduling.
More information can be found at lakesonoma.org or at facebook.com/friendsoflakesonoma.
You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @MaryCallahanB.