Fisheries Research Station
Dick Luebke; interviewer: Julie
TPWD biologists at the Heart of Hills Research Station investigate fish and fisheries management. Researchers tackle never-ending questions about population trends, species, and aquatic communities. Careers vary from technicians to research biologists.
Heart of the Hills Research Station
Heart of the Hills (HOH) Research Station is an integral part of the Inland Fisheries Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It has its roots deep in the past with the origin of what are now known as Stockman's Springs (or Ellerbacht Springs) located 3/4 mile upstream at latitude 30°10', longitude 90°20'. These life-giving waters once supplied the Indians of the Archaic period (400-3,000 years ago) and possibly for Cabeza De Vaca and his men as they passed through the area in 1534. Later, the springs offered respite to weary travelers on the Chihuahua Road from Mexico to Indianola.
In 1925, the State of Texas obtained water rights to the springs and, thanks to the donation of a parcel of land, opened the HOH Fish Hatchery on Highway 27, two miles south of Mountain Home. The original 36.4 acres of land were deeded by C.R. and Maud Eddins. At that time, two stone residences, a long building adjacent to one of the ponds and an upper tier of ponds were constructed. In 1929, 19.4 acres for a lower tier of ponds was purchased from the Schreiner family bringing the total area of the facility to 55.8 acres.
Water traveled from the springs to the hatchery via an earthen canal until 1935 when the Work Projects Administration undertook the building of the present-day concrete canal system. The spring waters flow in a southerly direction through HOH into Johnson Creek allowing the 25 ponds at HOH to be filled and emptied by gravity.
The Early Years
During its years as a production fish hatchery (1925-1969), HOH produced bluegill, channel catfish and largemouth bass for statewide stocking. Hatchery staff consisted of a superintendent, two technicians and seasonal help. At one time the grounds were even used to raise deer for the State's deer stocking program.
A Research Station is Born
In 1969, with the support of the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, the HOH Fisheries Research Station was established. A research staff was formed by assigning biologists and technicians from fisheries management districts across the state with the existing HOH hatchery personnel. A year later, the main office building was converted to a wet lab in 1975. The "pole barn" was added in 1977 to shelter boats and other field equipment.
Because waters from the springs are a constant 69° F at the point of origin and range between 60° and 75°F by the time they reach HOH they are ideal for maintaining both cold and warmwater fishes for research activities.
All research at HOH is applied research, aimed directly or indirectly at providing improved fishing for the people of Texas. Valuable information in the areas of fish age and growth, behavior, ecology, genetics and reproduction results from the scientific work done at HOH. The information is used by inland fishery and hatchery managers to make assessment, regulations and stockings. Some of the fish reared at HOH are stocked into public waters after projects are completed.
Past: Research projects at HOH have included freshwater fishes (catfish, crappie, largemouth, smallmouth and Guadalupe bass and various sunfish), saltwater fishes (flounder, orangemouth corvina, red drum, spotted seatrout, striped bass and tarpon) and non-native fishes (Nile perch, peacock bass and South American freshwater shrimp).
Present: Current fishery research emphasizes the study of native Texas fishes and the development of recovery programs for threatened and endangered fishes.
Today, HOH is a state of the art fishery research facility, complete with computers, an electrophoretic laboratory for genetic studies and an extensive library of scientific reprints and journals. Its growing staff is composed of a Research Director, a Hatchery Superintendent, research biologists and technicians and a secretary.
HOH Fisheries Research Station is open for public tours 8-5 PM, Monday-Friday. Large groups are advised to call or write in advance to schedule a tour.
Telephone: (830) 866-3356
Address: HOH Research
Station - TPWD
HC 7, Box 62
Ingram, Texas 78025
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